For most people, those numbers are merely statistics on a page.
For Eudora Ripley and Janice Gilroy those numbers bring heartache to their entire family.
“On July 24, 1996, my family changed forever,” said Ripley.
Ripley’s son, Jason Edwards, was 19-years-old at the time of his death. He was the passenger in a vehicle driven by an impaired driver while he was on his way home to River Hebert.
“Jason was coming home and he died less than five kilometres from our home,” said Ripley.
A drunk driver killed Gilroy’s son, Raymond, on Sept. 20, 2003, on the highway between Aulac and Sackville.
“Another young man decided to combine speed with alcohol. That decision resulted in the end of Raymond’s life,” said Gilroy.
“Raymond was only 20-years-old with a long, promising future ahead of him,” added Gilroy. “And it was taken away in the blink of an eye leaving an un-fillable hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved him.”
Ripley and Gilroy spoke those words to Amherst Little League baseball players before they played Wednesday night.
Ripley also asked the players to make sure nobody drinks and drives.
“Please do not drink and drive and do not get in a car with somebody who is drinking and driving,” said Ripley to the young ball players. “It can change your family, your life, and it can take your life.”
Afterwards, Donne Moore, Raymond’s Uncle, and Dwayne Ripley, Jason’s younger brother, cut a ribbon held by players standing along the baselines of the ball field. Then wooden benches were dedicated in memory of Jason and Raymond.
Ripley said young people have to be taught the dangers of drinking and driving.
“Some statistics show the problem is getting worse, not better, so you have to keep putting it out there that drinking and driving doesn’t mix,” said Ripley. “It’s a great feeling to see the benches, and I hope people will read the plaques and remember not to drink and drive, especially the younger generation.”
Gilroy said the location of the Raymond’s memorial bench is perfect.
“It is very fitting that the bench is here overlooking the field where he spent many summer days doing what he loved to do,” said Gilroy. “Raymond played ball up to the point where he was playing men’s league baseball when he died. He would love this.”
Gilroy then thanked Shelly Pettigrew, president of the MADD Cumberland-Tantramar board of directors, for making the benches a reality.
“These benches would not be her today if not for the hard work and determination put forth by Shelley who knew how much this meant to all of us,” said Gilroy.