Calgary family knows all too well devastation of impaired driving
As the holiday season approaches, drinking and driving continues to plague Alberta’s roads. Police will ramp up their presence on city streets and RCMP are conducting a checkstop blitz throughout the province.
The efforts of law enforcement will not return 19-year-old Shiraz Shermohammad to his family.
In the early morning hours of October 23, Shiraz, his parents and his autistic sister were returning from a late night movie when their vehicle was struck at the intersection of Country Hills Boulevard and Metis Trail Northeast by a driver that had failed to observe a red light.
The oncoming SUV struck the Shermohammad’s car on the passenger side where Shiraz was seated. The 19-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police suspect alcohol and speed were contributing factors in the crash. Charges are pending against the 28-year-old woman who was driving the SUV but investigators await the results of toxicology tests.
Shiraz’s parents, Karim and Soraya, and their daughter continue to recover from their injuries that include broken hips, ankles and ribs. Karim and his autistic daughter were unable to attend Shiraz’s funeral due to their conditions.
Three of Shiraz’s sisters, including Tahnaz Shermohammad, had elected to stay home instead of going to the movie. Tahnaz says her brother had plans to become a police officer and had been accepted for the law enforcement program at Bow Valley College.
“He was too young to pass away,” said Tahnaz. “He was just too perfect. He would do anything for you, any day.”
Tahnaz says her family, who are originally from Afghanistan but relocated to Canada in 2005, has been devastated by the loss.
“It’s like a nightmare,” said Tahnaz. “We try to stay strong for one another, my mom and my dad and my siblings, but it’s hard at times. If you cry in front of them then they cry.”
Shiraz’s parents have been unable to return to work and the family is facing financial hardship.
Tahnaz wants the allegedly impaired driver of the SUV to understand the impact of her actions.
“I need her to understand what I’ve lost, what my family has lost,” said Tahnaz. “If you have the money to drink, you have the money to take a cab think twice before you make any decision.”
“In the blink of an eye someone else can lose their life and it’s not fair.”
Across Alberta, more than 3,800 people have been charged with impaired driving in Alberta including 11 people charged with impaired driving causing death.
The RCMP checkstop blitz is intended to be a visible deterrent that reminds motorists not to drink and drive.
“We're starting our campaign early this year,” explained RCMP Cst. Michael Hibbs. “We want to make sure we get our roads safe for holiday travel.”
“We are encouraging drivers don’t drink and drive whether alcohol or impaired by drugs this Christmas season.”
RCMP checkstops will be in place on weekends at undisclosed locations. RCMP units will be monitoring for impaired drivers at all times.
With files from CTV's Ina Sidhu