Memorial service a call to action
Family, friends mark anniversary of life taken by moose-vehicle collision
John Neil is pleased to see the provincial government is implementing measures to reduce moose-vehicle collisions, even if they won’t bring back his dead son Johnathon.
“None of these actions will lessen or reverse the pain that we and far too many other families have experienced,” he said before a gathering of 50 on Route 73 near New Harbour — the same road where Jonathon Neil died one year ago — on Thursday, Sept. 15.
“Hopefully, these measures will save others from the heartache and pain we’ve suffered.”
John Neil was speaking at a memorial service dedicated to his son, whose vehicle struck a moose at approximately 7:20 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2010. He was on his way to work in Upper Island Cove when the accident occurred.
“ The support I see here today gives me goosebumps knowing that they’re there,” said John.
The emotion of the day was in plain sight as John Neil spoke. His wife Nancy Neil and daughter Alyshia had to cover their faces at times, and there were many other teary-eyed onlookers in attendance.
Johnathon grew up in Kitchener, Ont., but moved to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2006. The 22-year-old was training to be an electrician and had bought a home in New Harbour shortly before the accident.
Since then, the Neils have become active in the provincewide movement advocating for measures to make roads and highways safer for drivers.
“ Our family lives in constant fear ever since Johnathon’s accident, wondering who’ll be next,” said John Neil. “I know many other families share this same fear daily.”
He said the idea for a memorial event at the site of the accident came only four months after Johnathon’s death. Attached to that, John Neil launched a petition calling on the provincial government to introduce measures to deal with the moose problem on roads and highways.
He presented the petition with 7,500 signatures on Thursday to Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward, who was on hand for the service.
“Something does have to be done,” said Aylward, “and us in the public life need to realize that and take some action.”
Also in attendance was Eugene Nippard, founder of the Save Our People Action Committee, who said people need to make moose-vehicle collisions an election issue.
John Neil echoed that sentiment, once again referencing pilot projects introduced by the provincial government to test fencing and detection systems.
“Hopefully, in light of the fact this is an election year, hopefully this won’t be an empty promise. We, the people of this province demand action. Something needs to be done.”