I often see the pink and purple ‘Slow down for Kiera’ bumper stickers on cars around town. You might not know who this Kiera girl is, and if you don’t, here are a few things I want to share to help you understand just what those stickers mean to me.
I can’t say I knew her extremely well; we went to the same high school, took acting together, and had some of the same friends. She was a goofy, bubbly and outgoing young woman with long blonde hair and a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. When I picture her in my head, she is always smiling that wide, dimpled grin of hers.
Ironically, I learned more about Kiera after she died and I was covering the dangerous driving trial of the man who ran her over on April 30, 2010, five years ago today. In between court proceedings, I sat with her friends, some of whom I knew, others I didn’t (Kiera had a lot of people who loved her). We didn’t keep in touch after high school, so I got to hear stories about all the things she’d done in the last few years. Her mom showed me a photo album she keeps with her always, filled with photos of her youngest daughter.
Kiera was walking to work along Aberdeen Road in Coldstream when she was struck by a car and thrown onto the rock bed outside the North Okanagan Regional District office. You can still see a cross — often surrounded by flowers and decorations in her favourite colour, purple — in the rocks where her body was found the next morning.
The driver was convicted of dangerous driving causing death, plus failing to remain at the scene, and sentenced to just over two-and-a-half years in jail. He wasn’t just speeding and racing with his friend; he left the accident scene in an attempt to avoid liability.
After the trial, Kiera’s mum and dad spoke with reporters. Her father, a cop, said it was some comfort to think his daughter’s death might make people think twice about speeding and driving recklessly. He followed that by saying people would, eventually, forget about what happened.
It’s been five years since Kiera died, and about two-and-a-half since the trial brought some sort of closure to the tragedy. I haven’t forgotten about her. It’s things like those ‘Slow down for Kiera’ bumper stickers that help me remember. If I’m feeling tempted to speed my way home after work, or check a text message and I see that bumper sticker, I can’t help but see Kiera’s face. That to me is more powerful than any dangerous driving campaign I have ever seen.
If you didn’t know already, this is the story, and the woman, behind the Slow down for Kiera bumper stickers. Maybe, when you see them on cars around town, or as far away as Vancouver, as I have, you’ll see her face like I do.
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