Local man's family was devastated by drunk driver

the Edmonton Sun, July 11, 2015

Jason Hills looks down in silence at a brown manila envelope sitting at his left in a south-side restaurant one recent mid-morning. Because there aren’t any words to describe the court documents inside the envelope.

He takes a long pause.

“You’re part of a club you don’t want to be part of,” says Jason.

It’s part of his past he knew about; just too painful to probe for details. But now, at 33, Jason is embarking on new life chapter.

His parents, Linda and Gillman, were on a motorcycle holiday with his aunt and uncle. They were riding through Browning, Montana on June 18, 1985 when both bikes were met by an oncoming vehicle travelling at a tremendous speed. The vehicle ran into both bikes.

All four riders were killed. The driver of the oncoming vehicle was impaired, and was charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Jason, a former Sun reporter, didn’t know the full details of his parents’ deaths until several months ago.

Raised by his grandmother in Benalto, Alta., Jason has attended the candlelight vigil put on by the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers in Red Deer.

He went last November and met the national president of MADD, Angeliki Souranis.. She suggested he attend the national victims’ conference in Toronto.

“I’ve dealt with anxiety all my life — lots of ups and downs,” Jason says. “But those three days before the conference I was an absolute mess.

“I had so many mixed emotions about going.”

But after going to the conference and talking to other people who experienced the same type of loss, he returned to Edmonton with a new mission.

“I felt like I had a million pounds lifted off my shoulders,” he says. “I’m in a much better place now mentally because of the conference.”

Jason wanted to tell his story. But he didn’t know the details of his parents’ death.

All he had was a police report and autopsies. Both tucked away in an envelope.

But then one night a few months ago he called the police station in Browning. Jason was given another number and called the next day and told the woman who answered the phone his story.

One of the attending police officers at his parents’ crash — now a judge — happened to be in the office where he called.

“The lady asked me if I wanted to talk to him,” says Jason.

“I took a deep breath — and said ‘OK’.”

Armed with new specific details, Jason is making his mark with MADD. He was recently named vice-president of the Edmonton chapter and looks forward to working with local manager Gillian Phillips.

Sadly, there are many stories like Jason’s. Every day four Canadians are killed by impaired drivers. Another 175 Canadians are injured a year by impaired drivers.

The good news? MADD is available to help.

“I strongly encourage people to call MADD and start talking,” says Jason. “Because when you’re impacted by an impaired driver it never leaves you.”

The MADD Edmonton chapter’s phone number is 780-488-6233.
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