Saskatchewan

SGI suing bars that served impaired driver who killed Saskatoon family

Saskatchewan's public auto insurer SGI filed a statement of claim Thursday against two bars that served the impaired driver who killed the Van de Vorst family of four in January 2016.

Legal action 1st of its kind in Saskatchewan

Jordan and Chanda Van de Vorst and their two-year-old son, Miguire, and five-year-old daughter, Kamryn, were killed in January 2016. (Van de Vorst family vigil/Facebook)

Saskatchewan's public auto insurer SGI filed a statement of claim Thursday against two bars that served the impaired driver who killed the Van de Vorst family of four in January 2016.

The legal action, filed in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench, is the first of its kind in Saskatchewan.

The bars could have prevented the incident if someone had intervened, said SGI executive vice-president Earl Cameron during a press conference in Regina.

Catherine McKay's blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit when her vehicle struck the car carrying the Van de Vorst family north of Saskatoon. The four members of the family in the vehicle — two adults and their children — died.

Catherine McKay was charged with four counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and four counts of impaired operation with a blood alcohol reading over .08 causing death, in relation to crash that killed three people. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)

Industrial Kitchen & Bar and Crackers Licensed Cocktail & Dining Room in Saskatoon both served Catherine McKay the night of the incident.

Bar staff should have noticed how intoxicated McKay was, Cameron said.

"Let's not sugar-coat this," he said, after a reporter asked how bar staff would have known. "Three times [the limit]."


Licensed liquor establishments have a higher responsibility to ensure the safety of their patrons than that of individuals with guests in their homes, he said, noting bar staff has training to avoid over-serving.

The maximum amount SGI will be able to recover in the suit is $95,000, as prescribed under the Fatal Accidents Act, and there is potential for the matter to be settled outside of court, he said.

SGI says it plans to pursue legal action against other establishments in similar cases, when warranted.

SGI will also be suing McKay, Cameron said, noting that action has not yet been launched.

McKay, 49, pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death in June 2016. This January, she was sentenced to 10 years.

According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan led the provinces in its impaired driving rate in 2015.