Ad­vo­cacy group hon­ours Han­nah Thorne

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER TC ME­DIA

Fol­low­ing the tragic death of Han­nah Thorne in a twove­hi­cle col­li­sion that re­sulted in crim­i­nal charges be­ing laid against two men, fam­ily and friends of the 18-year-old from New Har­bour got to­gether to make a dif­fer­ence. They’ve formed an ad­vo­cacy group that’s tak­ing aim at chang­ing the High­way Traf­fic Act and ed­u­cat­ing young peo­ple about the dan­gers of reck­less driv­ing.

Han­nah Thorne was just 18-years-old when she was killed in a head-on col­li­sion on July 7.

A re­cent grad­u­ate from Cres­cent Col­le­giate in Blake­town, Han­nah touched plenty of peo­ple in a short pe­riod of time.

She loved art, an­i­mals and mu­sic, es­pe­cially play­ing gui­tar and a host of other in­stru­ments.

In late Au­gust, a pair of men were charged for al­legedly street rac­ing caus­ing the ac­ci­dent that claimed Han­nah’s life. Her grand­mother was also in­jured on the New Har­bour Bar­rens. Amongst those charges are crim­i­nal neg­li­gence in the op­er­a­tion of a mo­tor ve­hi­cle caus­ing death and street rac­ing caus­ing death.

Now, friends and fam­ily mem­bers are putting their best foot for­ward in an at­tempt to make changes in this prov­ince re­gard­ing neg­li­gent and reck­less driv­ing.

The S.T.A.N.D. For Han­nah Foun­da­tion was cre­ated in the last num­ber of weeks to help raise aware­ness in hopes of aid­ing in the pre­ven­tion of harm and death associated with reck­less driv­ing.

There are 12 mem­bers run- ning the foun­da­tion, in­clud­ing Han­nah’s par­ents Gail and Levi. There’s a group han­dling so­cial me­dia and some do­ing fund- rais­ing, while oth­ers han­dle me­dia re­quests.

“We wanted to stand to­gether against neg­li­gent driv- ing,” said foun­da­tion mem­ber and spokesman Dwayne Legge.

Neg­li­gent driv­ing is a com­mon sight on high­ways across this prov­ince. It’s not just rais­ing aware­ness on the dan­gers of street rac­ing the group is tar­get­ing.

Cross­ing on a solid line, trav­el­ling at high speeds and other as­pects that could lead to an ac­ci­dent and do some­one harm are in the group’s agenda.

The foun­da­tion is work­ing to get parts of the prov­ince’s High­way Traf­fic Act amended to raise the con­se­quences for reck­less driv­ing in an at­tempt to curb peo­ple’s ten­den­cies on the road.

“We’re look­ing to strengthen the poli­cies and leg­is­la­tion,” said Legge.

At the top of the list is mak­ing sure an in­di­vid­ual has their li­cense sus­pended im­me­di­ately when there is ev­i­dence that neg­li­gent driv­ing was a key fac­tor in an ac­ci­dent. In Han­nah’s case, the ac­cused still have the abil­ity to op­er­ate a mo­tor ve­hi­cle.

Legge said the foun­da­tion has had strong di­a­logue with gov­ern­ment on this is­sue and is look­ing for­ward to see­ing a pos­i­tive re­sult. They’ve met with Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles and Ser­vice NL, amongst oth­ers.

“They’ve been great to work with and speak with,” he said. “They’re go­ing to be bring­ing our rec­om­men­da­tion for­ward, and they’ll be do­ing a ju­ris­dic­tional scan to see what other prov­inces are do­ing.

“They want to work with us.”

Ed­u­ca­tion key

In the fu­ture, the foun­da­tion hopes to get into schools through part­ner­ing with law en­force­ment agen­cies and other com­mu­nity group. Then, they’ll speak with stu­dents about the con­se­quences of reck­less and neg­li­gent driv­ing.

Legge said STAND has hopes of work­ing with lo­cal film­maker Roger Maun­der on a video about the ef­fects that kind of driv­ing can have on fam­i­lies.

“We’d like to get in as a part of an ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness pro­gram in schools,” he said.

The re­sponse to the foun­da­tion has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. Stores around the re­gion have dona­tion boxes on their coun­ters and the group’s Face­book page has over 2,000 likes.

All of this is great, but it’s the me­mory of Han­nah that keeps the mem­bers mov­ing for­ward.

“We wanted to turn some­thing neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive,” said Legge. “We want to try and make change.”

SUBMITTED PHOTO

New Har­bour teen Han­nah Thorne was killed in a car ac­ci­dent in July. It’s al­leged an il­le­gal street race was the cause. Her friends and fam­ily have formed a foun­da­tion to raise aware­ness about the ef­fects of neg­li­gent driv­ing.

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