A few minutes to spare

Friday, Feb. 18 – at the law courts waiting on the Derksen verdict.

Had a few moments to spare, so I thought I would share some further details of the sentencing for Mark Rodgers in connection to the fatal Dec. 2009 stolen Hummer crash that killed Zdzislaw Andrzejczak.

His daughter, Elizabeth, gave a gut-wrenching impact statement to the court and I wanted to share it.

“We are making this statement as a family to honour Zdzislaw with the desire that those responsible realize what they have done and what it has meant to our family.

We would have preferred that our grief remain private, but … we cannot be silent.

This nightmare started for us over a year ago, when we got the call everyone dreads.

The police were telling us that there had been an accident. In the hospital, his wife Jolanta’s first thoughts were, ‘not him.’

She was so very angry that someone could take him away with this foolish act and then run away like cowards.

He lay on the pavement alone and his life seeped away….

The car wreck that broke his body also broke our hearts.

After the funeral was over we had time for reflection and questioning ‘why.’ It was only then we truly realized what we had lost and what we will never get back.

Our lives are divided in two – before and after Zdzislaw’s death. … A whole community of people, both here and back home in Poland are grieving with us too.

Jolanta and Zdzislaw met 29 years ago, married a few years later and had their son, Kamil.

They came to Canada in 1989, following Zdzislaw’s sister …

Zdzislaw was a real character. Full of life, always joking. If someone asked him how he was, he’d respond: “still alive.”

He’d been planning a road trip to Alaska next year. He loved talking to people and listening to their stories.

Everyone could count on him, no matter the hour …

His sister remembers being close with him in their childhood. Their mother always told (her) to watch out for her older brother.

(She) feels guilty that she couldn’t prevent this from happening. She had been looking forward to celebrating Christmas with the whole family.

But instead we had his funeral just two days before Christmas.

… Kamil lost his father and the only person he ever looked up to.

Zdzislaw was always there for his son, and his advice never steered Kamil wrong. (He) was always interested and encouraging when it came to Kamil’s studies. He called every day to make sure everything was all right.

The night before the crash Zdzislaw and Kamil met up to discuss how Kamil’s exam had gone that day. Kamil wasn’t able to talk long that night and felt bad for rushing his visits.

He counted on having years to spend with his parents. He thought they would have time to do all the things they had planned.

Kamil was looking forward to building a new garage with his dad. He looked forward to taking him to Las Vegas, he hoped to buy him a big house so he could enjoy a life of comfort.

He will never enjoy his father’s company again. Zdzislaw will never enjoy another night at Olive Garden with all of us as a family. He will never see what his grandchildren will look like, and he has no more chance to spoil them.

His wife, Jolanta says: ‘friends ask me if I’m OK. I say that I am, but it isn’t true.’

The day before he died, he gave her a ride to work. She asked for a kiss and he laughed. Instead their last kiss was on the day of his funeral, when she kissed him in his casket.”

“In the last part of our victim impact statement, your Honour, we would like to address Mr. Rodgers:

We hope that he takes our story to heart. We hopes that he changes his life and stops breaking the law.”

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After court, Kamil told reporters that the last part of the statment had to be edited just prior to court, because it didn’t fit the government’s guidelines for what the family was allowed to say.

Asked what he wanted to say, Kamil was blunt.

“Nothing,” he said, implying that addressing any words to Rodgers would be a waste of his time.

I have very little doubt that he’s right in assuming that.

James Turner
Reporter/Editor
Cbc.ca

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