A family from central Alberta is lobbying to have steeper penalties for drunk drivers who claim lives.
It’s been nine months and one day since their lives as they knew them came to a heart-wrenching stop on a central Alberta roadway.
“I try not to count the days, but it’s pretty impossible not to,” said Jesse Crawford.
The family of four had just spent a warm spring day at the dog park. Exhausted from the fun, the three-year-old twins fell asleep in the back seat on the drive back to the family’s acreage.
“They were so tired on the way home and I said ‘Why don’t we take the long way home and they can sleep for a little while longer?’” said Dakota Milburn, Crawford’s partner.
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It’s a decision the couple has struggled with ever since.
“Why did we go a different way? Why didn’t we just go home?” said Crawford.
Ten minutes from the acreage, the family’s SUV was T-boned by a drunk driver. The couple’s three-year-old daughter Stella died at the scene.
“She never came home,” said Milburn.
“I pulled her out of the car,” said Crawford.
“I did CPR on her until they found out I was her mother and they wouldn’t let me anymore,” Millburn said tearfully.
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Time has done nothing to dull the trauma.
“I have nightmares, just random flashbacks,” Milburn said. “It’s just never ever the way you want to see your child, the last memories of her… the last memories our son has of her.”
Stella’s twin brother Felix is struggling to comprehend what happened to his best friend.
“He just keeps asking a lot questions, he wants to know where she is,” said Milburn.
“It’s hard knowing there is only one baby coming out of that bedroom… some mornings you just forget.”
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In September, driver Curtis George Miller pleaded guilty and received a five-year sentence in connection with Stella’s death and two years for injuries suffered by Dakota. He also received a seven-year driving prohibition, which started when he began his jail time.
“The jail can be made to serve concurrently, which means it starts at the same time, or it can be made consecutively, which means one starts and finishes, and then the other one stars,” said Calgary defence lawyer Balfour Der.
Miller received a concurrent sentence.
Der, who is not Miller’s lawyer, said according to the Criminal Code, he will be eligible to ask for full parole after serving one third of the five-year sentence. But it is all dependent on the parole board.
“It’s less time than my baby was alive,” said Milburn.
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Stella’s aunt has started a petition lobbying the government to get rid of concurrent sentences for drunk drivers who claim lives and injure people. Hundreds of people have already signed it.
“Hopefully, down the road things change so families don’t have to go through what we’ve gone through,” said Fallon Milburn, Stella’s aunt.
While the family said no amount of sentencing will free it from its turmoil, they hope it may prevent others from having to live through their life sentencing pain.
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