In Honor of…Althea Kantola

My daughter, Althea Kantola, was killed by an impaired driver on Aug 12, 2020, just 3 weeks before she should have turned 2 years old. The driver had 4 drugs active in his system and ran straight into the back of my wife while she was pulling Althea in a bike trailer on a neighborhood bike ride. He did not stop after hitting them and dragged Althea’s body for hundreds of feet, ensuring that she had no chance of survival. My wife, Maggie, was almost killed as well, but has miraculously survived and while she lives with constant pain and nerve damage, her physical issues are minimal considering what happened to her body. My other daughter, Josie, was on the bike ride and witnessed everything and has had to live with this tremendous trauma. We have all had to learn how to keep surviving without our beloved family member. Althea never got a chance to have children of her own, learn to read, never even got to go to school. She was ripped from our family barely having any time on this earth, but still leaving such a gaping hole in all of our hearts.

In our case, the impaired driver was driving the speed limit and driving in his lane on a residential street. This is a perfect example of how you do not need to be “wasted” in order to take a life while driving impaired. Many people get behind the wheel thinking, “I have only had a few drinks, I’m probably not legally drunk” or “I haven’t smoked pot in a couple hours, I’ve driven this way hundreds of times before and nothing ever happened.” But driving a vehicle is dangerous to begin with. When you add alcohol or drugs to the equation, the danger rises exponentially. Sometimes it only takes a slight impairment to make a disastrous mistake with lifelong, or even life ending, consequences. Please, do not drive if you are under the influence of mind altering substances, even if you think you are “fine.” Your are NOT fine, you just got lucky those other times.

— Janelle Palmer