Surrey's Markita Kaulius holds photos of her daughter Kassandra Kaulius

1,074 pairs of shoes to represent ‘preventable’ drunk driving deaths

Display outside Surrey Provincial Court Nov. 24 to remember victims and remind people to find a safe way home.

There will be 1,074 pairs of shoes lining the steps in front of the Surrey courthouse on Saturday – each pair representing a Canadian killed by a drunk driver last year.

The event, Remembering Someone Special, is being organized by Surrey’s Kaulius family and a group they created called Families for Justice.

Kassandra Kaulius, 22, was killed in May 2011 when her car was hit by an impaired driver near 152 Street and 64 Avenue.

The Kaulius’s have collected hundreds of pairs of shoes for the courthouse display.

“We’ve had a really, really good response from the community,” said Markita Kaulius, Kassandra’s mom. “These types of crimes affect many people … and we have school kids that have wanted to donate shoes and companies that have wanted to donate shoes.”

She said the mound of footwear being stored in her garage is growing rapidly and she’s confident the 1,074-pair goal will be met.

Any pairs beyond that number, she said, will be piled behind the others on display to represent the 63,000 injured in 2011 by a drunk driver.

“Every one of those people killed, that was a preventable death,” Markita said, adding many families of other impaired driving victims plan to attend Saturday’s shoe-in. “That’s the point we want to make, is that every one of those shoes represent someone that should still be here.”

She hopes the timing of the event, as Christmas approaches, also serves as a stark reminder to have a good time at holiday celebrations, but don’t get in your car if you’ve been drinking.

“We just don’t want this to happen to anyone and we want their loved ones to get home to their family for Christmas,” Markita said. “Our’s, unfortunately, can’t but we hope everybody else does.”

Natasha Warren, the driver who hit Kassandra Kaulius, pleaded guilty in July to dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death and failure to stop at an accident. Her pre-sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 17.

Families for Justice is collecting signatures (petition accessible on the group’s Facebook page) to lobby for a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in jail if someone is convicted of impaired driving causing death.

The Nov. 24 shoe event will take place at 1 p.m. on the front steps of Surrey Provincial Court, 14340 57 Ave. For more information, there is also a Kassandra Kaulius Memorial Page on Facebook.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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