Me­mo­rial ser­vice a call to ac­tion

Fam­ily, friends mark an­niver­sary of life taken by moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sion

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

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.”

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