Statement from Teresa Bateman, the mother of driver Brenden Holubowich

The Globe and Mail

Brenden Holubowich walks with supporters to a courthouse for sentencing in the deaths of four high school football players, in Grande Prairie, Alta., on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. (JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

This statement was issued Feb. 27 by Teresa Bateman, the mother of Brenden Holubowich. Mr. Holubowich pleaded guilty to five charges in connection with a car accident in Grande Prairie, Alta., that killed four teenagers and left one badly injured.

The accident on October 22 resulted in a terrible tragedy, a tragedy that deeply affected many families and people in this community. Nothing I say in this statement can dull the facts of that night. Five very young boys did not make it home. Nothing prepares mother, a father or a family for your children to be in an accident or to have a loss of a child.

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We can never fully understand as our family, as Brenden’s family, what this was like for those families or how long the road will be for them towards recovery. We can however, finally, at this point in the legal process, open our hearts and share a seldom heard or recognized perspective from another family involved in this accident, and that’s Brenden’s family. And we can apologize.

As Brenden’s mom, and on behalf of his loving family, we sincerely extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Matthew Deller, Walter Borden-Wilkins, Tanner Hildebrand and Vincent Stover, and to the family and friends of Zachary Judd for the pain and difficulties associated with his injuries. We cannot imagine the loss, or the grief, that you’ve experienced. And no matter how much we might pray, hope or wish that isn’t so, this tragedy can never be reversed. And for this, we are sorry.

Just as the others struggled with their words, there’s no way for me to describe how this has been for our family. It’s difficult to explain the feelings that we’ve had as we discovered that Brenden was in a serious accident, and was in custody with unknown charges. I can’t begin to explain the horror of discovering through social media that four boys had died and one was seriously injured as a result of the accident. And it’s impossible for me to tell you our grief and our anguish as we adjusted to this reality, and the understanding of what this would feel like for Brenden.

We didn’t know the boys, but we grieved, too, along with the families and this community. We watched for words of recovery for Zach Judd. We followed every story, every article and discussion about the accident.

For us, any thread of normal was also ripped from our lives, and we faced a long difficult journey that was unclear, unknown and very frightening. Life became very uncertain for us, and the familiarity of our home community became a place where we now felt afraid and at risk.

Never in a lifetime would I have guessed our family would be going through this situation. From the time our children are born, there are risks that may influence or change life as we know it. But truly, until it does, we could not fathom the magnitude of what that means. Hearing the impact statements yesterday had a profound effect on Brenden, and on each of us. And we hope that hearing Brenden’s apology and seeing his face, and seeing him face the guilty plea will help each member of the families affected by this loss heal and find some forgiveness, even if it’s a little bit at a time.

We know how lucky we are as a family. Our son, brother, uncle and friend is alive. And we are very aware that we could have also lost Brenden that night. This is the reality that we’ve faced since that first phone call. Brenden was sentenced today for the decisions he made that night, and I assure you that he didn’t wake up that day with any intent of doing harm. As with most accidents, many factors occurred throughout the day, into the evening, that involved multiple people, multiple decisions and multiple actions for this tragedy to occur.

Countless people have approached us that just seeing the situation through our family’s experience has changed them, made them more empathetic, understanding, of all sides in cases like this. And more aware, more careful, more conscious of how fragile life is.

Truly, if accidents like this one don’t change our behaviour, and don’t change us as a society, something is wrong. We need to challenge behaviours, actions and the norms that we accept today. Perhaps that’s the legacy that the loss associated with this tragedy can have. And these boys deserve to be part of a legacy. But that means we have to face the issues that caused this accident humbly and boldly, with an openness that nothing can ever be the same again, that each action has an effect, and that others may be impacted by our actions and decisions more than we could ever imagine.

We need to recognize the reality that situations like this can have on anyone, including our own families, our own children or our grandchildren. We’ve been supported by many, many people in this community. And throughout our network of family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. And it’s through their compassion, understanding, lack of judgment and never-ending grace that we stand here today to extend both our sympathies to the families, and our thanks to all of those that have been on this journey with us. Thank you.

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