REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says the loss of an entire family in a crash near Saskatoon is “an unspeakable tragedy.”
Jordan Van de Vorst, his wife, Chanda, their five-year-old daughter, Kamryn, and two-year-old son, Miguire, died after their car was struck by an SUV early Sunday.
“I think as soon as Saskatchewan people hear about or read the news, they’re automatically considering their own circumstance and their own family. I did. We all do that,” Wall said Tuesday in Regina.
“We just can’t stress enough the importance of safety and the importance of enforcement with respect to things like driving under impairment.”
A 49-year-old woman, who is charged with impaired driving causing death, has appeared in court and is to do so again on Thursday.
Improvements, such as making the shoulder wider and lighting, have been made at the intersection where the crash happened. A spokesman for the Ministry of Highways has said a 2014 independent safety study showed it is no more dangerous than others in the province.
Wall says the Highways Ministry is reviewing the crash and what more may need to be done to improve safety at the site.
“We don’t want to speculate as there’s sort of proceedings going on, but pretty clearly you can have quote-unquote safest intersection in the province be the site of death and loss if someone’s driving drunk,” he said.
Saskatchewan has the highest impaired driving rates per capita of all provinces.
According to Statistics Canada, there were 683 police-reported impaired driving incidents per 100,000 population in Saskatchewan in 2011. The Canadian average was 262.
Saskatchewan implemented tougher penalties for impaired driving in 2014, including longer licence suspensions, immediate roadside vehicle seizures ranging from three to 60 days, and mandatory ignition interlock in certain cases.
Wall says Saskatchewan’s impaired driving rate is “very frustrating.”
“We’re going to have to ask for some reports from those elements of our government for options to crack down a little bit more. Not trying something or not looking at all of the options, is just not an option when faced with a potential tragedy and loss like we saw just few days ago,” he said.