Richmond Hill Liberal
November 22, 2018

Over the past few years York Region has witnessed some cataclysmic suspected impaired driving events.

First, it was the Neville-Lake children and their grandfather killed in Vaughan, by Marco Muzzo.

Since then, some far less publicized events have occurred: Stuart Ellis was killed on his way to work by a suspected impaired driver in November 2017. He was the son-in-law of York police Supt. Graeme Turl.

Then, Jenny Dixon‘s car was struck by a suspected impaired driver at the end of October.

Families continue to mourn while the police repeatedly communicate its message and the media published the bad news. The problem is the problem not only remains, but appears to be getting worse.

In fact, this year, much like in recent years past, the number of people charged with drunk driving on York Region roads continues to rise.

So far in 2018 York police have laid 1,210 charges for impaired as opposed to 1,172 charges in 2017. There have been five fatal crashes on York Region roads.

Just Wednesday night, police made two arrests for impaired, one warning. One of the arrests involved a 27-year-old man from Waterloo, who allegedly blew twice the legal limit, much like Marco Muzzo in 2017.

Despite this, Turl continues to hold out the belief that we will one day get that number down to zero, a number befitting the Not One More slogan the service has adopted for its drive to end drinking and driving.

“I can’t lose heart, I have to hope that a difference will be made,” he said beside York Regional Police’s seasonal RIDE launch on East Beaver Creek, in Richmond Hill, at 7 p.m..

He made the comments months after Ellis’ son, who was in Turl’s daughter’s belly when Ellis died, was born without a father. He is named Coby Stuart Ellis, after his now deceased father.

“He looks a lot like his dad,” he added explaining how much life has changed since that fateful morning on Hwy. 48.

Turl said he was heartened by the story published in the Richmond Hill Liberal this week involving the two stepbrothers who called 911 and filmed a suspected impaired driver driving into oncoming traffic before she was charged.

“We have 911 for that purpose,” he said. “They may have saved a life with that call and that’s the priority.”

Katie Apreda, the new president of MADD York Region, is the best friend of Ashley Fogal, the 23-year-old woman who was killed years ago by a drunk driver.

“I hope we can change things with the new generation,” she said. “It’s hard to change old habits, so we’re trying to build new awareness.”

Insp. Ed Villamere said the service is currently awaiting the go-ahead from the government to begin using their three new cannabis-impaired testing kits, called the Drager Drug Test 5000 on drivers.

He said York police will be using them on novice, young and commercial drivers, none of whom are allowed to have any cannabis in their systems while driving.

Police also announced that since marijuana legalization there have been 10 charges for impaired by drugs.

Jennifer Neville-Lake and her husband Ed were also present, but chose not to speak to the media.

Cards with her children’s pictures on it above the slogan “NOT ONE MORE,” were handed to drivers.