Markita Kaulius, with picture of her daughter Kassanda – who was killed by a drunk driver in Surrey – in the background. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Grieving mom shares vivid message against impaired driving with Lower Mainland students

‘The devastation can spread through everyone you love,’ Markita Kaulius warns

A grieving mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver in Surrey is imploring anyone who will listen to not drive while impaired. She’s currently taking her message to local schools.

“Each year between 1,250 to 1,500 people are killed in Canada. That works out to roughly four to six people a day, and 190 a day are injured,” Markita Kaulius notes.

“The pain of losing a loved one to an impaired driver is indescribable,” she says. “There are no words in the English language to even come close to tell you what it is like to lose a child, and how it affects families.

“I have a bedroom down the hall in my home where everything is still the same as the day she died. The only thing that I’ve been able to do is pack up her dresser drawers. I’ve tried three times to go in and empty the clothes out of her closet.

“The worst pain of losing a child is living every day without that child in your life.”

Kaulius is touring Lower Mainland high schools as grad season approaches to caution students about the perils of impaired driving.

She has partnered with ICBC as a “road safety speaker,” sharing her family’s tragic story with young ears hoping her audiences will make the right choices before getting behind the wheel.

On Wednesday, Kaulius was at Earl Marriott secondary in South Surrey, and on Thursday she spoke at Panorama Ridge Secondary in Newton. On May 28, she’ll be speaking at Frank Hurt Secondary, and on June 3, Guildford Park.

She’ll also be presenting at schools in Delta, Abbotsford, Langley and Chilliwack.

Her daughter Kassandra, 22, was killed in 2011, a year when 1,075 people were killed by impaired drivers in Canada and more than 63,000 were injured.

A North Delta woman who drank more that a bottle and a half of wine ran a red light and slammed her company van into the side of Kassandra’s BMW at 103 kilometres an hour, at 152nd Street and 64th Avenue on May 3, 2011.

The aspiring teacher and pitcher for the Storm’s senior ladies team had been on her way home after playing a game of softball at Cloverdale Athletic Park when she was killed. Markita spent that Mother’s Day choosing the clothing her daughter would be cremated in.

After her daughter died, Kaulius founded a group called Families for Justice to lobby government for better impaired driving laws.

“No one should ever die like this,” she said.

You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium as Kaulius recalled hearing about her daughter being killed and the harrowing aftermath for her family, in her one-hour talk. Student Isha Chand described it as “very powerful.”

“I ask all of you here today, after 40 years of education and awareness, is there anyone in this room who does not know that you should not drink or drive,” Kaulius challenged. “And yet we continue to see impaired driving, and distracted driving, as one of the number one criminal causes of death in Canada.”

Kaulius told the students about the promise she made to her daughter, as she looked at her body on the hospital gurney before it was taken to the morgue.

“I leaned down to kiss my daughter goodbye, and I told her that I loved her and I was sorry I couldn’t protect her,” Kaulius told the students. “I remember standing there, and her whole life flashed in front of me.

“I stood there saying goodbye to my baby girl, my best friend, for the last time. I told her I was sorry I could not have stopped the impaired driver from drinking and driving, but I would do everything I could to make sure that another family would never have to go through what we were going through now. It broke my heart to say goodbye to her.”

She said her family soon realized they were living a nightmare, “but we were all awake, and we weren’t going to wake up and have this all go away. This was real. We were living every parent’s worst nightmare – someone had killed our child.”

READ ALSO: Mother of Surrey woman killed by drunk driver weighs in on proposed impaired driving laws

READ ALSO DRIVING MISS HAZY: What will happen on our roads once recreational pot is legal?

READ ALSO ZYTARUK: Gee, academics discover smoking pot leads to bad school grades

READ ALSO ZYTARUK: Fighting still, in Surrey and Ottawa, for Kassandra’s Law

READ ALSO: Flower thefts at Surrey roadside memorial astound mourning family

READ ALSO: Sign drunk driving petition, grieving mom of Surrey victim pleads

Kaulius reminded the students that “life is all about the choices that we make, and I hope you’ll make all the right choices in life and keep yourselves safe. I hope you can all understand the consequences of risky behaviour when driving.

“And that means even speeding. Whether it be impaired driving, distracted driving such as talking on your phone, eating while driving, putting on makeup while driving, or checking your phone for messages.

“All of these actions can be deadly,” she warned. “It only takes seconds for a collision to occur.

“Please, do not drink or do drugs and drive,” Kaulius pleaded. “The devastation can spread through everyone you love.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UFV offers mental-health screenings as part of Beyond the Blues

Activities at event from Jan. 27-31 include stress bingos and colouring

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

City plots plan to get more affordable housing built as rental crunch continues

Abbotsford’s rental vacancy rate was 1.3 per cent in 2019; New affordable housing strategy considered

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

Aspiring pot-sellers can apply in two weeks to operate stores in Abbotsford

City will accept applications to operate one of four new stores; public consultation to follow

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Most Read