Amy ReidSurrey Now-Leader
SURREY — The crashes that took the lives of young Surrey athletes Kassandra Kaulius and Travis Selje happened on the same day, six years apart.
They both happened along 64 Avenue on May 3. And both teens had blonde hair and blue eyes.
Kassanda’s mother Markita said on the anniversary of her daughter’s death, she was horrified to hear about Travis Selje.
“My husband and I both said this poor family has no idea the nightmare they’re going to be living in the next few years,” Markita told the Now-Leader. “There’s never any closure. Don’t tell people time heals. Not when you lose a child.”
Travis died after a car crash at 64th Avenue and 176th Street. The Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student is being remembered as a star athlete in both baseball and soccer.
“It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday,” said Markita. “I spent my Mother’s Day trying to decide what my daughter would be cremated in. My Mother’s Day was changed forever, just as it will for this mother.”
Markita hopes to connect with this family to offer support like she does for many other families through her organization, Families for Justice.
“It’s still a struggle six years later,” she said. “There are times when you’re going through this, you think, ‘How am I going to survive this?
“Hopefully we can walk alongside their journey and tell them things that have been helpful for us, and also explain how the justice process works,” Markita added.
Emergency responders had to remove the roof of the vehicle and use the Jaws of Life to rescue Travis and two passengers after last Wednesday’s crash.
Police say one vehicle was involved in two separate crashes.
A caller told police a black Cadillac had been involved in a collision around 9 p.m. with a vehicle near 64th Avenue and 168th Street.
“She fled the scene,” said Surrey RCMP Corporal Scotty Schumann.
Police say the Cadillac then hit the back of the grey Honda Prelude Travis was driving.
Schumann said police are “looking strongly” at impaired driving and speeding as being factors, but no charges have been laid.
Back in 2011, Kassandra was killed at the age of 22 on May 3 when she was on her way home from coaching softball.
She was studying to be a teacher and was engaged to be married.
“Our family changed forever that night,” said Markita. “It’s never gone back to the way it was and it never will. We still miss her every single day.”
The mother has spent the last six years fighting for change.
Markita said she’s been to Ottawa three times, spoken to many committees, talked to three premiers, three federal justice ministers and has a petition of support with more than 117,000 signatures.
“We’ve lost over 6,000 innocent people in that time. What does it take before it’s truly taken as a serious crime?” she asked.
“Stats show we lose four to six people a day in Canada to an impaired driver. And 190 a day are injured.”
Markita is fighting for the government to change the Criminal Code to redefine the crime as vehicular homicide, and is also after tougher sentencing.
Even if that’s achieved, she said, the decisions lie in the hands of judges and “until they make this a tough sentence as a deterrent it will continue to happen.”
“Most people can only imagine what it’s like to lose a child,” said Markita. “What you think it would be like, it’s a thousand times worse. Your entire world is turned upside down and there is absolutely nothing to make it better again. You cannot bring your child back.”
She urges the Selje family to connect with her at email@example.com.