One July night in 1994, Kevin Hoolinsky and four friends had a boys’ night out at a downtown Windsor bar. Several hours later, Kevin got behind the wheel of his 1985 Firebird.
On the way home, he and his buddies were trying to get the attention of a carful of girls. Kevin was driving too fast when he lost control on a bad curve. Joe Camlis, Kevin’s best Friend since the age of four, and his other close friend, Andrew Thompson, were both killed. Kevin was not physically hurt. The two others were injured. Kevin pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death. For reasons of general deterrence, the crown asked for a jail term of between eight and 14 months to serve as a lesson for other young drivers. In the words of a community police officer who worked on the case: “we knew that we had been telling audiences a very clear message – ‘You drink and drive and kill someone. You are going to jail’.” The appeal courts have said that a prison term is an appropriate sentence in almost every traffic death where there is serious negligence.
But Kevin did not go to jail, both because of an extraordinary intervention from the parents of the two dead boys and because of a courageous and innovative court judge who took a risk with an alternative community sentence. What happened that day in the justice system of Windsor is best expressed in the words of Dale Thompson, Andrew’s father. He made the following submission to the court.
“Since society demands exacting a price for Kevin’s mistake, I’d like to think that price, rather than incarceration, could be a much more constructive motion… We have been in contact with the Windsor Police Department about arranging a program in conjunction with area schools. The program would consist of Kevin, along with what is left of his car, attending at schools and speaking with the students about the events of that tragic evening. Both families have already offered to assist the Hollinskys and Kevin in his attempt to reiterate to young drivers the importance of responsible driving. I know Andrew would want it this way, I surely do.”
Kevin Hollinsky received a sentence of 750 community service hours and spoke to more than 8, 300 students in an extraordinary program that included strong messages form the police, Kevin, Mr. Thompson and another friend who was in the car.