St. John’s, NL – For many victims of impaired driving, when they hear about an impaired driver being caught, it is about much more than a charge or a sanction. It is about a potential crash being averted. It is about someone being spared a devastating injury. It is about a family not having to face the excruciating pain of losing a loved one, as Nick Coates’ family did.   

On a beautiful August day in 2013, Nick was riding his motorcycle back from a work meeting when he was hit by a pickup truck. He died in hospital later that day. Just 27 years old, Nick was working his dream job as a civil engineer and was engaged to be married. The driver of the pickup truck who hit Nick had been drinking the night before and the morning of the crash.

Today, MADD Canada, with the support of Nick’s dad Terry Coates and stepmom Paticia Hynes-Coates, presents the Nick Coates Awards. In honour of Nick and all victims of impaired driving, this new program recognizes officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) for their outstanding efforts to take impaired drivers off provincial roads and highways.

In this inaugural year, awards will be presented to 16 officers from the RCMP and RNC at a special ceremony at RCMP Headquarters in St. John’s today.

“For every impaired driver these officers take off the roads, it is a potential tragedy averted. It means a family like ours may not have to mourn a loved one,” Mr. Coates said. “In honour of all victims of impaired driving, we offer our heartfelt and lasting gratitude to the committed police officers who take impaired drivers off the roads.”  

Officers who have taken a minimum of 12 impaired drivers off the roads during the previous year will receive the Gold Award. Officers who have taken at least 8 impaired drivers off the roads during the previous year will receive the Silver Award. Officers will also receive certificates and special commemorative challenge coins.  

“The RCMP greatly values its partnership with MADD Canada; we share a mutual commitment to ridding our roadways of impaired drivers whose actions tragically result in serious injuries and deaths which are entirely preventable,” said Commanding Officer RCMP B Division Ches Parsons. “I commend MADD Canada for recognizing the work of our police officers, who work every day to serve, to protect and to save lives. I also thank them for their ongoing efforts in putting a spotlight on the horrendous impacts of impaired driving endured by those who are injured and the families who lose loved ones. Tackling impaired driving is a priority for the RCMP and we will continue our proactive enforcement efforts to educate the public and save lives.”   

“Impaired driving has a devastating impact on our residents, families, and our communities. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives, or have suffered serious bodily injury as a result of impaired driving,” said RNC Chief Joe Boland. “Members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary play a significant role in keeping our highways and waterways safe, as is evident by the work of these dedicated and professional officers. The RNC will continue to build partnerships within our communities, and will remain steadfast in our efforts to address impaired driving. It is truly inspiring to see the initiative and care shown by the police officers being recognized by MADD Canada. Thank you for your dedication, determination and commitment to safe and healthy communities. I would like to thank MADD Canada for this initiative and for their unwavering efforts to eradicate impaired driving. ”

“Impaired driving takes a tremendous toll,” said Dawn Regan, Chief Operating Officer of MADD Canada. “We are proud to have this opportunity to recognize the extraordinary efforts of these officers to remove impaired drivers from the roads, make our communities safer and help ensure those who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs face the consequences of their actions.”

MADD Canada thanks the Coates family, the RCMP and the RNC for their support in creating this annual awards program.

For more information, contact:

Dawn Regan, MADD Canada Chief Operating Officer, 905-330-7565 or dregan@madd.ca.

Susan MacAskill, MADD Canada Atlantic Region Manager, 1-866-798-6233 or atlantic@madd.ca.