Fisher stresses against driving while impaired
Tears streamed down the faces of students at Riverview Collegiate Wednesday.
© Nathan Liewicki
Jamie Fisher, MADD Canada's Western Canadian Representative, talks about how his life was impacted by the actions of an impaired driver at Riverview Collegiate Wednesday afternoon. Fisher also shared a short film with students, which depicted the fatal consequences that associated with drinking and driving.
This reporter also struggled to hold back the tears as he watched the 2013 Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) School Assembly Program video – Smashed.
Even Jamie Fisher, MADD Canada’s Western Canada representative, admitted that following the video he has had to leave gymnasiums because the victim impact statements are just so emotionally draining.
After attending a funeral, his mother was supposed to come home to an arrangement of flowers he had prepared for her.
On her way home, an impaired driver killed Fisher’s mother – on her birthday.
Only 22 years old when his mother died, Fisher remembers the police officer coming to the family’s front door and urgently requesting to speak to him about an incident.
“I'll never forget what he looked like or what he said. I stared him in the eye and his eyes welled up,” Fisher recalled. “I could tell he was fighting back tears and it was very difficult for him.
“It changed my life forever and it changed my family’s life forever.”
His mother’s death was the main reason Fisher became involved with MADD Canada.
“After my mother was killed I did about eight months to a year of grief counseling. When I was finished the grief counseling I decided I wanted to make a difference and make a change in the impaired driving crashes,” said Fisher. “That's when I started volunteering with MADD.”
Although he lives in London, Ont., Fisher travels through British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan delivering presentations to Grade 7 to Grade 12 students.
He tends to present twice a day, five days a week and those presentations last throughout the entire school year.
“When kids think about impaired driving and impaired driving crashes, unfortunately all they think of is how much it is going to cost to fix the vehicle, how much will insurance cost after I’m caught and my parents are going to kill me,” fisher told the Times-Herald. “What this teaches the kids is what happens to the innocent people after they've been injured or survived an impaired driving crash, or had a family member killed.
“This shows what people go through for the rest of their lives. And these are things kids this age don't take into consideration. They don't think about the consequences, so this goes to show how much impact impaired driving really has.”
The presentation predominantly revolves around Smashed, which includes a fictional scenario involving an impaired driver that kills other innocent people.
The last part of the short film includes victim impact statements from people whose lives, like Fisher, have been turned upside down and scrambled through and through because they had a loved one killed by a drunk driver.
Emotions just drip from the video, but its role is also to influence students.
“I’ve had a lot of kids come up to me and say, 'I've been to parties where I've seen people drive impaired. I think I'm going to make a stand and have the courage to stop that person or maybe go out and make that very courageous 911 phone call and try to stop that person from driving impaired,’” said Fisher.
A pair of Grade 11 students in Riverview’s Students Against Drunk Driving group – Jamie LaRose and Caitlyn Betker – spoke of the impact the video had on them.
“The interviews were the worst part and watching the reactions of loved ones,” said Betker.
“It’s very emotional and shows you the real affects drinking and driving can have,” said LaRose.
According to Fisher, every day four Canadians are killed, with numerous others injured by impaired drivers, which is 100 per cent preventable.
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks