Christa's husband wants to know if you are a ZeroMonday, September 09, 2013 by: Carol Martin
Christa Stephanie (Lukenda) Michaud's short but full life was celebrated at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish on Friday.
Her many friends and family members said their final good-byes to the 28-year-old who was struck and killed by a pickup truck near the corner of McNabb Street and Algoma Avenue a week before.
Michael Casselman, Age 54, was driving that pickup truck and he has been charged with impaired drinking causing death.
Police aren't sure if Christa was riding or walking her bike but they know she was traveling west on the south side of McNabb Street when Casselman veered toward her, shearing off a utility pole and striking her almost head on.
On Saturday the family launched a campaign against drinking and driving with the release of a T-shirt designed by Christa's husband, Ryan Michaud.
The shirt asks, 'Are you a zero?' in reference to the amount of alcohol they believe should be in a person's bloodstream when he or she gets behind the wheel of a car - zero percent.
"Fight for what's right! 0% alcohol! Are you a zer0?" says the campaign on TeeSpring
The Lukenda/Michaud clan is tight and they are banding together to fight against drinking and driving they told SooToday.com when they were setting up a memorial for Christa at the corner where the collision happened.
Where some families have folded under the weight of such horror and deep sorrow, the Lukenda/Michaud clan has been galvanized to action, finding strength and healing in planning how they will fight to save other families from the pain inflicted by drunk drivers.
All of them are strong, capable and determined.
That was clear in their expressions of grim determination as they stood on the corner where, not even 24-hours earlier, the baby of the family of 10 siblings was hit and killed by a drunk driver.
"Christa was an incredible sister who lived so much in 28 years," said brother Damian Lukenda in a memorial to her poured from his soul the day after she was taken from her family.
There was one family member noticeably missing that Saturday when they placed photos, candles and stuffed animals in memory of Christa at the utility pole on the corner of McNabb Street and Algoma Avenue.
Her husband of just 14 months, her best friend and soul-mate, Ryan Michaud, could not bring himself to be there, said Darlene Gallagher, Christa's eldest sister.
"If he were here he would say that, if and when he can ever get through this, he would want to tell Christa's story so people would not drink and drive," she said.
Christa and Michaud met during one of her summers home from the University of Windsor in Windsor, ON, and the two were married in Scotland last June.
After the wedding they toured Europe and finally returned to the Sault for a reception with their large, enthusiastic family.
In September they left for Saint Maarten in the Caribbean to teach for their fifth and final year.
The plan was to return to the Sault for the summer and then head to Singapore to teach for a couple more years before starting a family of their own.
"She was a natural teacher," said her sister Marissa Marques. "She was so caring and so giving. All of us are helpers like Christa. Some are teachers, we have a doctor in the family, an occupational therapist. It's a natural extension to want to help other families avoid this pain."
The family is adamant that it was alcohol that caused the crash that killed their baby sister.
Not the corner.
"If it had been any other corner, it would have been the same," Gallagher said. "It wasn't the corner."
It all comes down to a drunk driver, said Lukenda.
"Her birthday was November 11, Remembrance Day," he added. "Now we'll be remembering her in our fight against drunk driving."
Marques said the family intends to focus on drunk drivers and do all it can to keep them off the road.
"We can't get her back," she said with clear conviction and tears welling up in her eyes. "But, if we can save just one child - just one family from this hell - it will be enough."
Earlier SooToday.com coverage of this story
cooper2006 9/9/2013 7:59:35 AM Report
Sad, sorry and wish this never happened, but I fail to see how 0% would have prevented this, nor do I see how 0% would have any impact, as impaired drivers are already breaking the law. Sound policies without political and emotional responses are required. Similar to pot, this would only create increased criminalization without positive social impacts. Sorry but not with you on this one, seems like the work of political forces here...
Mr. Poster 9/9/2013 8:04:33 AM Report
Work towards making these offences earn higher penalties is the way to go. Big fines...loss of the vehicle...longer times before a drunk can ever drive again. It has to hit drunks in the pocket book and with severe loss of driving priviledges. MADD does a lot of the work the ZERO t shirt is suggesting.
firstname.lastname@example.org 9/9/2013 8:19:24 AM Report
I am a zero. I hope that this guy pays large. I watched the video, and although i don't know Christa, what a beautiful girl. It was very heartfelt. I send my condolences to Ryan and her whole family & friends. May you all get through this with the great memories you's all have of Christa, that's what helps. She will always be with you's.
Boomer4771 9/9/2013 8:30:58 AM Report
I have to agree with Cooper on this one. The laws are already in place. Very sorry for your loss.
right wing 9/9/2013 8:31:50 AM Report
If you can't see how zero percent alcohol would have prevented this there is something wrong with you.
If this driver had not been impaired the "accident" would not have happened.
I applaud this family for what they are doing.
If they get the message through the thick head of even one person that drives impaired they may save a life.
Instead of negatives lets show positives towards folks that are willing to stand up and speak during one of the most difficult times of their lives.
Flyers08 9/9/2013 8:32:21 AM Report
What a beautiful yet sad video. Such a sad story, may her family and friends find peace.
havenesegal 9/9/2013 9:04:06 AM Report
I am a zero I lost a good friend to a drunk driver ,repeat offender who is now out and prob still drinking and driving .Harsher penalties are needed.I really feel for the people who lost there family member.Death in a family is never easy,at any age ,sudden or not.I also feel for the family who live in the house.to have such a shrine built is not easy for them.A constant reminder to the horrific accident that happened there.I had a murder happen in an apartment I lived in there was a huge shrine built out side,for us it was a daily reminder of something that was out of our control.then on the yr anniversary they held a candle light memorial out side our window.Unfortunately the living keep living and this was hard to explain to my 3 yr old why people were out side with candles.there are many ways to memorize the departed but this isn't one of them in my opinion.R.I.P. Christa..
Dead End Kid 9/9/2013 9:07:37 AM Report
Cooper2006, I disagree with you. Absolute zero tolerance would be a step in the right direction so that in the future it would be the norm that most people will associate and understand that you cannot operate heavy machinery while under the influence of alcohol.(not even a little bit) It is not allowed in any workplace so why should it be allowed on our city streets.
We will always have drunk drivers but we can reduce the incident rate dramatically by educating our future children by implementing a zero tolerance policy. This is a good thing for society, not a bad thing.
habby67 9/9/2013 9:08:01 AM Report
It's pathetic some of you seem to think that there are political forces here at work. Everyone knows what the laws are, that's besides the point. What their campaign entails I believe is to make people aware that if you are going to drink, leave your vehicle at home. Case closed.
justin case 9/9/2013 9:16:48 AM Report
I think the ppl at sootoday.com should turn off the comments on this story.
Mr. Poster 9/9/2013 9:19:34 AM Report
justin case 9/9/2013 9:22:11 AM Report
sportsfan17 9/9/2013 9:34:43 AM Report
I agree, the penalties need to be much stiffer in regards to the next time these people are allowed back on the road.
First offense. Five-year driving ban.
Second offense. Lifetime ban. Sorry pal, two feet and a heartbeat or a bus pass for you! Simple as that!
Might help us with some of health care costs too, get people to walk everywhere..
rocketman 9/9/2013 9:37:11 AM Report
Just In Case: I do not think anyone has been ignorant in these comments. If you don't like what's being said, don't read the comments.All drunk drivers that kill someone should get a mandatory 25 year life sentence. This idiot should get a full life sentence for the speed he was driving past our back yard.He was on a suicide mission.
popppp 9/9/2013 9:37:54 AM Report
comdolences to the both families. she was a beauiful woman taken too soon. zero is a very good idea. future young drivers should be told the story. i support zero. justin, you are wrong. i was a driver who drank years ago and drove. not ever thinking of anyone. not realizing what could happen. i think of it sometimes and just shutter. thinking of who i could have hurt or killed. ruining two sets of families. hurrah for zero. you have my suppor ryan.
Mr. Poster 9/9/2013 9:39:00 AM Report
sportsfan...impounding the vehicle would be a good idea too. The only problem with that is the fact that it would deny transportation for other family members.
right wing 9/9/2013 9:44:50 AM Report
You will reach some drivers with a zero policy but unfortunately not all.
Statistics show that each time the blood/alcohol allowed has been lowered the injuries and fatalities related to impaired drop.
Suspending licenses does stop some of these idiots but unfortunately not all.
My cousin was killed here in the Sault by an impaired driver that was on his third offense and under suspension at the time.
He still got behind the wheel.
The jail time he received was a slap in the face to the family, 3-1/2 years, out in less than three.
I don't know what the answer is in stopping these hard core impaired drivers but the penalties do not reflect the crime they have done.
popppp 9/9/2013 9:54:52 AM Report
i hate to say this but people are still drink and drive. it is very sad.
Snowdon 9/9/2013 9:55:04 AM Report
So, without freaking out on me, I shouldn't be allowed, as a 19+ year old adult, to have 1 beer and drive until hours later?
right wing 9/9/2013 10:05:23 AM Report
The level is .50 now, if you had one beer and drove right after and were stopped at at a roadside you could blow over.
An average male with a weight of 160lbs would blow a zero after one hour with one drink consumed.
wakeup 9/9/2013 10:20:46 AM Report
This is very sad , not the first time such a thing has happen, zero likely wont happen as todays society is driven by party going irresponsible people who live for friday an their idiotic ways of bar hoping, an so on, first of all the age here should be 21, as kids are far to imature, second zero i think should be how it is, if you are a drinker then you cant drive period, anyone caught drinking an driving, first your car tow' d gone for no less then one month an tow fee applied, second ,, no lless then one week in jail, and a 1000 dollar fine, the next time caught the vehicle should be taken an auction off, the right to drive gone no less then five years, call it harsh , but enough people have died thanks to idiots an alcohol, so much crime happens because of alcohol, so much load on our medical system, but the good ole government loves the taxes gathered from it an dont do nothing to stop any of it, very sorry for your loss, nothing worse then looseing a family or friend to a murderer
outside the box 9/9/2013 10:24:46 AM Report
I to believe in ZERO tolerance. My deepest condolences go to any family that has lost a loved one to an impaired driver. We talk about laws and consequences yet these drivers continue to drive impaired because they are not stopped from getting behind the wheel or reported to police. Do all these drivers drink alone somewhere then go out and drive. How about responsible people don’t let irresponsible people drink and drive when you see it report it! The live you save may be someone you love.
Tag33&1/3rd 9/9/2013 10:47:54 AM Report
It should be 0 period!!! Not even a sip of alcohol before driving! And I have to say we need same system for drugs--pot cocaine etc.. and prescription medication! (all impairs judgment and motor skills!)
Tag33&1/3rd 9/9/2013 10:49:36 AM Report
0% of anything period!!!
Snowdon 9/9/2013 10:50:10 AM Report
You danced around my question without answering it. I don't need to be told things I already know. I'm wondering why I should have ZERO % in my body when I'm driving.
brett 9/9/2013 10:51:54 AM Report
There is a zero % policy in British Columbia.
B Boy 9/9/2013 11:02:12 AM Report
Jeanette Niganobe was on a 15 year driving prohibition when PC Doucette was struck & killed.
0%, impounding, suspensions, bans, etc are all great ideas but what's stopping these people from getting drunk or stoned and climbing behind the wheel of another vehicle?
Laws only work if people follow them.
So how to we make these laws effective and followed?
Where I'm from there was a whole division is auxiliary constables who were trained and leveraged to perform RIDE programs every Friday and Saturday night.
There's a very small cost to equip & train these aux constables but otherwise they are volunteers and provided with authority under the Police Services Act.
I'd like to see more auxiliary constables used - it would also free up other police constables for calls, etc.
A greater police presence would deter & catch hopefully before it happens.
Other cities also have free buses after certain hours and on holidays to mitigate drunk driving.
Another factor - doesn't SSM have the among the highest taxi costs in Ontario? Combine that with a somewhat depressed economy and there's a strong factor working against the laws.
I contacted the police months ago to see how I could get involved with the police (i.e. auxiliary). I got a read receipt but never received an actual response.
crashed13 9/9/2013 11:53:34 AM Report
You would have to build a 1000 new jail cells if you wanted to bust a person who had one drink some place.
0% is a noble idea, but would be a enforceable failure, like illegal pot and the Prohibition of the 1930s.
Get busted because you had one beer in the club house after a round of golf is getting abit over the top.
B Boy 9/9/2013 12:07:21 PM Report
Ride programs can also help people get off the road by intervening and getting a taxi, a relative to pick them up, or other alternatives.
I've seen frequent RIDE checks prevent impaired driving, people can be heard making calls at bars for rides because of the RIDE checks. They can help change a culture or just scare people into not driving.
If someone blows a 'warn' level on an approved screening device then they have their license seized for 24 hrs after which they can pick it up at HQ.
Unfortunately I only really see RIDE programs here around holidays, not regular weekends. They're also set up on main streets with LOTS of distant visibility like at the end of Gt Northern Rd so the drunks can take an alternate route and get away without being caught.
I don't mean to seem as if I have all the answers. Just an opinion based on experience.
S.M.A.R.T. 9/9/2013 12:08:48 PM Report
You have one light beer, you drive home, you're stopped by the police and PRESTO, you're a CRIMINAL?!? No thanks! I'm tired of people who suffer a tragedy and become extreme crusaders. All this does is expose us to more and more laws that are oppressive and unecessary. Do you really think that drunk drivers who willingly get themselves into a state of inebriation ever intended to not drink and drive? i.e. cared that they didn't maintain a .00? C'mon people. Smarten up!!! People who REALLY drink and drive need to face REAL consequences, not those who don't!
B Boy 9/9/2013 12:42:16 PM Report
SMART - you do have a point in that the law abiding citizens of Ontario or Canada are often punished more relative to the criminal. (i.e. insurance rates, firearm control, shoplifting & other crimes). We bear the brunt of price increases, fewer freedoms...
My heart indeed goes out to the family in their tragedy and I support their intent.
It's unfortunate that the people who should be resolving these issues and providing the solutions are the ones we've voted in, yet their attention always seems to be on legislation where money is involved. Look at how much attention the legal pot debate has received and how legalisation will generate $$ - when was the last time you heard the Ontario parties debating impaired driving?
asp 9/9/2013 12:45:06 PM Report
I am so sorry for the families lost, First of all the law should be change also. This city lost so many people to being hit by a truck/car and nothing is really being done. Why isn't the boy, that got hit on Queen street getting the same attention as this case. This person was important too and the driver got off. The police failed in that accident, by not performing a sobriety test and moving the truck. The girl that killed a police officer and the killer got off with no real jail time and she still drinks st Reggie and brags about killing a police officer. The laws have to really change.
B Boy 9/9/2013 12:55:13 PM Report
asp - the laws are there, they are just too leniently applied either by the police, or the courts.
If a justice applies a heavier sentence then the precedent that's been established then the next justice who hears the appeal makes a counter-decision that's lighter. It's a load of nonsense. The problem, as always, is the people who make up the system.
My shed was broken into along with 7 others on my street the same night.
The police caught him a week later but because they failed to make a report on each of us who called the police the offender was charged with only 1 count.
He was a known young offender but now he's an adult that's legally irrelevant.
He went to court and was giving a slap on the wrist - no fine just probation.
If the police actually looked at each crime every time he committed one then the charges would have been greater.
If the justice actually looked at the impact the offender had on OUR lives, not just the precedent then maybe there would have been a real consequence.
The police failed, the court failed, the system failed.
I get caught for speeding once and I faced a greater consequence then this offender, even though the roads were clear, there was no one around on the road. Why? The police don't have quotas, but they are gauged on their productivity in ways that are quantifiable, such as speeding tickets.
The problem again, the people in the system.
Dead End Kid 9/9/2013 1:15:55 PM Report
I don't understand the logic that it should be a person's right to have one or two drinks and then get behind the wheel. That is like saying it's okay to blow smoke in someone's face as long as they are standing on the sidewalk. The potential to hurt innocent people is still there. There are many so called responsible people who arrive at the bar intending to have only a couple of drinks but end up having five or six or more and then take the side streets to get home. They are not getting the message because the door is still open a crack and they are going through it. Zero tolerance with stiffer escalating penalties is the way to go until people finally get the message not to drink and drive.
mac2 9/9/2013 1:25:14 PM Report
problem is people dont look at drinking and driving as that bad in society, until an accident happens, same with the law, only when people get hurt do the sentences go up.
when it is looked at as someone waving around a loaded gun, then things will change.
Number One Son 9/9/2013 1:34:37 PM Report
The fact that this driver was over the limit will over-ride any other possible scenario. Had the driver been sober, this accident still could have happened. There are many "idiot" drivers on the streets right now, ... better law enforcement of All laws is what is necessary. I recently saw a city bus driver on his cell phone while driving a city bus, .... far too many law-breakers out there.
On the south side of McNabb heading west equates to being on the wrong side of the roadway on a bicycle, .... just a fact to point out. If she was walking her bike, that would e fine, we will never know I guess.
None the less, a tragic event. We are all too quick to judge. I personally feel the families are far to quick to be taking the actions they are doing. They should take time to grieve and reflect. That is what is needed now.
crashed13 9/9/2013 1:37:21 PM Report
To many judges and politicians and uppity ups who have a drink after a round of golf in the country club to let a 0% law ever pass.
They actual "Drunk" driver your after probably will never care what the percentage is set at.
Just like pot smokers do not care that pot is illegal.
Trying to put away a person who had one or two drink just is not going to do much in the scheme of things.
Dead End Kid 9/9/2013 1:46:26 PM Report
Crashed13, with all due respect to you, your defeatist attitude is a cop out and is not helping to improve the situation. We all need to be optimistic and lobby for change.
Tills 9/9/2013 3:06:26 PM Report
a horrible loss indeed... but lately reports say that there are more traffic related deaths due to cell phones, texting etc. I hope that the penalties will be the same for those offenders as well.
groundspeed 9/9/2013 3:21:28 PM Report
@ mr poster
I disagree with your comment that it would be a problem to revoke driving privileges because it would deny other family members transportation.
Driving your vehicle for whatever reason is not a right.
If your family relies on you for the convenience of having a car for transportation, that could be a great incentive for them to make sure you don't lose the privilege if you're not respectful enough to to it on your own. They can take cabs or buses. It's not like they've become prisoners in their house because you can't drive them anywhere.
Set up memorials and stage protest in front of the drunks house. Public shaming of all accused and knowing that your neighbours will see that if you get caught drinking and driving MIGHT make people think harder before doing it.
groundspeed 9/9/2013 3:26:34 PM Report
I meant of all convicted, not all accused.
harshbee 9/9/2013 5:13:55 PM Report
i am feeling terrible for this poor family .and drinking and driving should be delt with in a harsher manner, and it should also be more difficult for anybody who drives to get the alcohol. before the driver drinks , he or she doesn't say ," well think i'll go and have a few drinks and kill someone. the alcohol can get to the brain so fast , that one looses all control of thoughts , body and sight co-ordination, it hits everybody differently , and not till they sober up ,and then ,depression sets in , they feel terrible and guilty and don't want to live themselves , but the fact is ,they have to live with the guilt and rejection all their lives , so between drugs and alcohol, before we even use or drink ,get educated ,and think , i promise ,nobody is ready for the conscequences of either.
thumbs4208 9/9/2013 6:13:51 PM Report
there needs to be change people . Get on board , pass it on.
Boomer4771 9/9/2013 6:24:37 PM Report
I feel for this and every family that has gone through a preventable tragedy like this one but I am not a hypercrite. I bet 95% of the people posting and some of the family members that suffered from tragedies have had some alcohol and got behind a wheel. That being said these individuals that continue to do so and end up hurting someone else should be imprisoned for a long time cause nothing else will help. What we as a society must do is educate our families and children so that it may eventually come to an end of driving under the influence of any sort.
guard1 9/9/2013 8:04:10 PM Report
I would hope someday interlock systems will become mandetory in all vehicles where sensors can detect alcohol thus preventing the vehicle from being started. if you recall years ago seatbelts were optional, now they are mandetory. Airbags were non existant years ago, now they are commonplace. The technology may exist but may not be sensitive enough to detect the presence of alcohol in the air inside a vehicle without blowing direct into a breathalizer.