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Living with pain and fear that never leaves


Most residents on the Burin Peninsula will likely recognize Roma (Hennebury) Hayes of Marystown.

BY GEORGE MACVICAR

The Southern Gazette

It’s unlikely you know her but in her position as an employee at a local store you’ve probably come in contact with her.

However, the majority of people who have met her are unaware of the tragedy that has been a dominant part of her life. Just over 30 years ago she and her four brothers/sisters, all between 13 and 18 years old, suffered such a horrific catastrophe in their lives it can only be described as a nightmare.

Her parents had just left in their car, with Roma’s small cousin in the backseat, to go for a drive. It was a July afternoon and she thought ice cream was in her future.

Roma was 16-years-old, had just finished school that June and she was pregnant with her first child. The world was about to offer her new experiences but not the kind she expected or wanted.

Alone in the house, a few minutes later her 13-year-old brother ran in to say someone had stopped him on the road to say their parents had been in a car accident. After calming him down, she had to know and ran out down the road.

She came on the accident, ran to one ambulance – no one there. Then a second ambulance and still no one. Over the bank she saw her parents’ car; it was draped with a tarp over the front. She ran to see but an RCMP officer held her back.

She said most of the wake, the funeral and the next few weeks she thinks her brain blocked out and she can’t remember.

In that short span of time, Roma’s life and that of her siblings was changed for a lifetime. An accident that meant her parents were gone!

Two vehicles touched while passing each other on Ville Marie Drive in Marystown. The driver of the second vehicle was charged – driving with negligence causing death and served a jail sentence.

She shared her story and the impact it has had on her life since, and that of her own family, with about 60 teary-eyed onlookers at the Peninsula Mall in Marystown Saturday afternoon. She was speaking to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Canada’s kick off for its first Red Ribbon Campaign on the Burin Peninsula.

Local MADD Chapter organizer Donald Slaney of St. Lawrence and regional manager for Atlantic Canada Susan MacAskill hosted the event with the ‘Memorial Wall’ of pictures in the background, showing people who have been killed in drunk driving accidents in Canada. Their message is display a red ribbon on your own car as a ‘reminder’ and to help keep our highways safe this holiday season and all year round.

Ms. MacAskill said the Red Ribbon Campaign started in Ontario in 1987.

“Impaired driving deaths and injuries are not diminishing. It’s the number one criminal cause of death in Canada.

“But they are preventable. No one needs to die this way.”

She said MADD has been lobbying the federal government since 2009 for legislation as part of the Criminal Code of Canada instituting random breath testing.

“In countries where roadside (breath testing) legislation has been enacted, the number of impaired drivers has fallen 35 per cent.”

Mrs. Hayse said she had not opened up as much before about the impact of losing her parents has had on her life.

“I’ve lived in pain, fear, horror and grief and it never goes away.”

She said it still hurts to see moms and daughters doing things together.

gmacvicar@southerngazette.ca

BY GEORGE MACVICAR

The Southern Gazette

It’s unlikely you know her but in her position as an employee at a local store you’ve probably come in contact with her.

However, the majority of people who have met her are unaware of the tragedy that has been a dominant part of her life. Just over 30 years ago she and her four brothers/sisters, all between 13 and 18 years old, suffered such a horrific catastrophe in their lives it can only be described as a nightmare.

Her parents had just left in their car, with Roma’s small cousin in the backseat, to go for a drive. It was a July afternoon and she thought ice cream was in her future.

Roma was 16-years-old, had just finished school that June and she was pregnant with her first child. The world was about to offer her new experiences but not the kind she expected or wanted.

Alone in the house, a few minutes later her 13-year-old brother ran in to say someone had stopped him on the road to say their parents had been in a car accident. After calming him down, she had to know and ran out down the road.

She came on the accident, ran to one ambulance – no one there. Then a second ambulance and still no one. Over the bank she saw her parents’ car; it was draped with a tarp over the front. She ran to see but an RCMP officer held her back.

She said most of the wake, the funeral and the next few weeks she thinks her brain blocked out and she can’t remember.

In that short span of time, Roma’s life and that of her siblings was changed for a lifetime. An accident that meant her parents were gone!

Two vehicles touched while passing each other on Ville Marie Drive in Marystown. The driver of the second vehicle was charged – driving with negligence causing death and served a jail sentence.

She shared her story and the impact it has had on her life since, and that of her own family, with about 60 teary-eyed onlookers at the Peninsula Mall in Marystown Saturday afternoon. She was speaking to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Canada’s kick off for its first Red Ribbon Campaign on the Burin Peninsula.

Local MADD Chapter organizer Donald Slaney of St. Lawrence and regional manager for Atlantic Canada Susan MacAskill hosted the event with the ‘Memorial Wall’ of pictures in the background, showing people who have been killed in drunk driving accidents in Canada. Their message is display a red ribbon on your own car as a ‘reminder’ and to help keep our highways safe this holiday season and all year round.

Ms. MacAskill said the Red Ribbon Campaign started in Ontario in 1987.

“Impaired driving deaths and injuries are not diminishing. It’s the number one criminal cause of death in Canada.

“But they are preventable. No one needs to die this way.”

She said MADD has been lobbying the federal government since 2009 for legislation as part of the Criminal Code of Canada instituting random breath testing.

“In countries where roadside (breath testing) legislation has been enacted, the number of impaired drivers has fallen 35 per cent.”

Mrs. Hayse said she had not opened up as much before about the impact of losing her parents has had on her life.

“I’ve lived in pain, fear, horror and grief and it never goes away.”

She said it still hurts to see moms and daughters doing things together.

gmacvicar@southerngazette.ca

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