Mother of drinking and driving victim raises awareness of impaired driving

Thanking sober drivers for driving sober at check stops may not seem like a regular way to volunteer, but for Tracy Franklin, it helps keep the memory of her late daughter alive.

In fact, Franklin makes regular appearances at check stops, trying to reach as many people as she can with. “I do whatever needs to be done to raise awareness; working with police, handing out ribbons, and being the face out there,” she says.

Franklin is the former president of the Calgary chapter for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). She lost her eldest daughter, Daylene, in an impaired vehicle collision 12 years earlier.

“It keeps her alive, and it keeps it going when I do talks to schools and talks to companies,” Franklin says. Handing out MADD ribbons, fundraising, chairing and organizing a victim impact panel in the city, and volunteering with other victims are some of the things Franklin does to raise awareness and help her cope with her loss.

“I probably tell her story, I’m going to say at minimum 20 to 25 times a year to companies or schools or programs and, you know, I hope that it makes a difference. I don’t do it because I enjoy doing it, I do it because I hope that it gets to others, even if it was just one person.”

For Franklin, every retelling brings back the pain of her tragic loss. She says no matter how many times she tells the story it’s still mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Police Lights, Courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Police_Lights.jpgFranklin’s voice begins to tremble as she starts to talk about the accident. She says it all started one early Sunday evening when Daylene was invited to play pool with some friends and a guy she was still getting to know from work. Daylene convinced her younger sister to come along so she didn’t have to go alone. The three met up at Daylene’s place first, had a few beers and then all headed off to the pool place. The girls each got into a different vehicle. According to the police report, on their way there, the driver of the vehicle Daylene was in, lost control on Deerfoot Trail South and the Jeep flipped. Daylene flew out of the vehicle.

She died instantly. The driver survived.

Daylene’s sister, who had arrived safely at their destination, first learned about the crash from a breaking news alert on TV after seeing that a girl her sister’s age had just been in a crash. Franklin, however, did not want to believe what she was hearing, so she called police to confirm. Five minutes later, they appeared at her doorstep and confirmed the tragic news.

“I’m like, there’s no way, as a mom I’d know and so I argued with them, and he asked me if she had a tattoo, I said yeah, then he handed me her wallet and said he’d made a positive ID out of the license…I still didn’t want to believe it… it was true,“ she says.

Franklin became president of MADD Calgary shortly after her daughter’s death. She says she stepped off the board after seven years because the work was just too much to handle any longer. “It rips me apart, and a lot of people, they just can’t do it.”

“He handed me her wallet and said he’d made a positive ID out of the license…I still didn’t want to believe it.” – Tracy Franklin

As tears begin to well up in her eyes, she says, “You meet a family whose son was eight and killed and then you think well at least I had her to 23. I didn’t get to see her lots, I didn’t get to see her fulfill her journey through life, and I didn’t get to see her married and have kids so I still miss that huge portion of her life. But she was 23, and so in a way I feel lucky.”

To this day, Franklin regrets not giving Daylene the kiss she asked for the morning of the crash. Franklin was in a rush to leave and told Daylene she’ll take two kisses the next time they meet.

Franklin is always looking forward to her next check stop appointment with the Calgary police. She never had the chance to make good on those two kisses, and the pain of losing Daylene continues, even 12 years later. But it does make her feel a little better knowing that she is helping stop others from jeopardizing their lives on the road.

MADD Calgary chapter website: http://maddchapters.ca/calgary/

Thumbnail courtesy of Malak Amche

mamche@cjournal.ca 

The editor responisble for this article is Nick de Lima, ndelima@cjournal.ca