1.21.2003

Awhile back, I was in contact with Kevin Slator, the grandson of the man who killed my cousins in a drunk driving accident. It was rather surreal at first to be contacted by him out of the blue. He had seen some of my family history I had posted online somewhere, and was hoping to collaborate with me to find out more about the story. In the end, I could only give him some oral history about how it affected our family, which he greatly appreciated. However, I received in return a rich background on who Jack Slator, his grandfather, was. By all accounts he was a decent man, hardworking, liked by all, who did a very foolish thing of drinking and then getting behind a wheel. But for the grace of God could go all of us...

...and, ironically, he was a native-born Irishman...

Family history tells the story like this: One day my cousin was walking home from church with some other kids just having attended Catechism. A drunk driver coming from Pembina came down main street St. Vincent and ran into one group, then crossed the road and hit another group. The driver kept going.

In the end, two children were dead, including my cousin.

The deaths hit the community hard. My Uncle John and Aunt Lena were devastated. Later the same year, he and my other two cousins - the remaining children of the family - all died in a freak drowning at the family farm. There were no witnesses, and only assumptions and speculations to this day as to what really happened. Some said that John in his deep grief either purposely took his own life and his daughters, or took an opportunity that presented itself to do so. Others were more charitable and assumed he was attempting a rescue of the girls and it went horribly wrong. Either way, my Aunt Lena was overwhelmed, and ended up having a nervous breakdown in her attempts to cope with her grief.

For years, the man who did this to my family was just a faceless monster. Now I know he was much more than that, and that life is never that simple...