'What will stay with me ... is the scream': police share traumatic experiences

Operation Impact is aimed at getting drivers to focus on the importance of safe, sober driving.

RCMP officers share experiences as first responders to encourage safe, sober driving

"I got out of my vehicle to see a mangled wreck of a car down in a deep ditch. There was a body of a young girl lying on an embankment ... obviously dead," wrote Cst. Douglas Baker, a RCMP officer in Prince Edward Island. (RCMP)

"What will stay with me for the rest of my life is the scream the man let out when he got to the crash," wrote Cst. Vanessa DeMerchant. "This father had just lost his daughter."

DeMerchant is one of several Mounties from Atlantic Canada writing on an RCMP web page about traumatic experiences they have had on the job.

"The car was on fire and it looked like someone was still in the back of the vehicle. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do," wrote Cst. Vanessa DeMerchant, an RCMP officer in New Brunswick. (RCMP)

The project is part of a national campaign, run through The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, called Operation Impact. It's aimed at getting drivers to focus on the importance of safe, sober driving.

Police are also sharing stories and real-time information about stop checks on Twitter, using #DontDrinkAndDrive.

"In a sad twist of fate, our investigation revealed that the man who died in the crash was actually the friend and drinking partner of the man who struck the parked ambulance," wrote Cpl. Janet Leblanc, who serves with the RCMP in Nova Scotia. (RCMP)

According to the RCMP, impaired driving is the No. 1 criminal cause of death in Canada.

Police are urging people to keep the following tips in mind before they hit the roads this weekend:

  • Don't drink and drive. Ever.
  • Use seatbelts and child restraints every time you travel in a car, no matter how short the trip.
  • Pay attention at all times, refrain from the use of mobile hand-held devices and/or aggressive or high-risk driving behaviours which may lead to a collision.
"The reality of this crash immediately sinks in; four people were in the car but only one survived. The survivor remained in a coma for several days, but had no memory of the crash," recalled Cst. Donnie Robertson, who serves with New Brunswick's RCMP. (RCMP)

Operation Impact runs through Canada's Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It began as a single-day campaign aimed at increasing seat belt use across the country.

Several Saskatchewan RCMP detachments and police services are taking part.

"It’s never easy and there’s no right or wrong way to deliver news to tell something that their son has died," wrote Sgt. André Pepin, with New Brunswick's RCMP. (RCMP)


Madeline Kotzer


Madeline Kotzer is an award-winning Saskatchewan journalist and social media news editor/presenter for CBC Saskatchewan and CBC Saskatoon.


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