Kerpan family continues campaign against impaired driving

Allan and Melanie Kerpan hold a framed photo of their late daughter Danille at their home near Kenaston. (Leader photo by Joel van der Veen)

By Joel van der Veen

KENASTON — Days before Danille Kerpan died, she had a conversation with her sister Stefanie, the kind of deep talk the sisters often had.

Danille, then 25, talked about her future goals and the things she wanted to accomplish — including her desire to help at least one person.

More than two years after she was killed by a drunk driver, Danille’s family is working to keep that dream alive.

Her picture is prominently featured in two new campaigns against impaired driving, both of which were unveiled recently.

On May 11, SGI released a new 60-second commercial, featuring family photos of Danille and other victims of impaired drivers.

They are shown surrounded by loved ones. Then their images fade from view, representing the void left behind.

The campaign runs from May 14 to June 16, with the ad appearing online, on TV and in theatres.

A second campaign, presented by MADD Canada and the RTL-Westcan Group, was launched in Saskatoon on May 17.

Danille’s photo will appear on 40 truck trailers operated by Westcan in Saskatchewan, along with her name, her age when she died and the words, “Killed by an Impaired Driver.”

Through these campaigns, Stefanie said at the Westcan launch, her sister still has the opportunity to accomplish that dream.

“Thank you, Westcan, for giving Danille the platform to do just what she wanted — to not only change lives, but to save them,” she said.

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Allan and Melanie Kerpan live in the same farmhouse west of Kenaston where they raised their four children: Joshua, Tyrel, Stefanie and Danille.

Family photos adorn many of the walls, and images of Danille, from childhood through adolescence to early adulthood, are everywhere.

Some of her keepsakes and possessions are also on display. One item, a description of herself written as a Grade 12 student, seems poignant now, especially in certain parts: “I worry that I will not stay young forever.”

For the Kerpans, the house itself is filled with memories old and new. They now have three grandchildren, with a fourth on the way.

Melanie, a teacher who works from the Distance Learning Centre in Kenaston, said it can be overwhelming when the rest of the family is home. Generally, though, she finds it a source of comfort.

“I feel her here all the time,” she said. “I don’t find it overwhelming. I find it comforting.”

Allan, a farmer and a former MP and MLA, said he struggled with seeing Danille’s face at first.

“The first few days or weeks, I couldn’t look at the pictures without crying,” he said. “Now I’m glad they’re here.”

Danille died Oct. 10, 2014 in a head-on collision on Highway 11 just south of Bladworth, when her vehicle collided with a truck headed north in a southbound lane.

She was one of 59 people killed that year in auto collisions in Saskatchewan where alcohol was a factor.

The driver later pled guilty to impaired driving causing death. He was sentenced to four years in prison and will be prohibited from driving for seven years after his release.

Two-and-a-half years after Danille’s death, the Kerpans face constant reminders that life has changed.

“There is no more normal,” Allan said. “You look at everything differently than you did before.”

He recalled how friends and neighbours appeared to act differently around them, especially in the first year — unsure if they could approach them or talk to them about it.

Gradually, Allan said, people seem more comfortable raising the subject with them, especially as they have stepped into the role of advocates.

In the last couple of years, the Kerpans have made presentations in area schools and become more involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

To read the full story, please see the May 29 edition of The Davidson Leader. To subscribe, contact The Davidson Leader, 306-567-2047.

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