Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Sobering stories on drinking and driving

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Yet another young life has been snuffed out in a suspected case of deadly drunk driving.

Andrea Bannish, 28, died early Thursday morning in Selkirk, Manitoba, just a few blocks from her home and only weeks after she got married. A 22-year-old man has been arrested and charged after allegedly running a stop sign and slamming into Bannish’s vehicle.

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Her death – the 5th in Manitoba since Halloween as a result of impaired driving – is as tragic and senseless as they come.

And like all the others, it was entirely preventable.

Sadly, history tells us it’s only a matter of time before we’re talking about the next tragedy. And the next. And the next.

With the holiday season fast approaching – a time of year when people are in a celebratory mood as their schedules are filled with office parties and family celebrations - I wanted to share with you what I consider to be the most powerful message I’ve ever heard on the subject.

I WANT YOU TO MEET ERIC.

About 10 years ago, Eric called in to a national radio show hosted by Peter Warren, who is well known to Winnipeggers as the former morning show staple on CJOB. Peter has since retired – allowing my "Crime and Punishment" program to take up a national spot - but passed this particular piece of audio on to me with a simple request to play it across the airwaves every year, around this time.

Eric has a confession to make: He had killed a little boy on Christmas Eve while driving home, drunk, from a party.

As you will hear in the seven-minute clip, Eric was clearly tortured over what he’d done.

So tortured, in fact, that Peter tells me he learned a few years after this call that Eric had taken his own life, apparently unable to cope with the guilt.

But this clip isn’t about Eric, and it’s certainly not about feeling sorry for him.

It’s about putting a human face and voice to an issue that, despite all of the efforts to get people to change their habits, continues to be an epidemic across Canada.

As Peter said towards the end of this truly memorable call, he believes Eric’s message will help save a life.

I truly hope it does, which is why I wanted to share it with you. And invite you to do the same by passing this on to others.

And please folks, don’t drink and drive.

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About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

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