Markita Kaulius holds a photo of her daughter Kassandra, who was killed by a drunk driver six years to the day of the crash that took the life of 17-year-old Travis Selje. (Photo: Black Press file photo)

Tragic anniversary for two Surrey families now after Travis Selje’s death

Surrey crash that killed Travis Selje happened on same day as Kassandra Kaulius’ death six years ago

The crashes that took the lives of young Surrey athletes Kassandra Kaulius and Travis Selje happened on the same day, six years apart.

They both happened along 64th Avenue on May 3. And both young people had blonde hair and blue eyes.

Kassanda’s mother Markita said on the anniversary of her daughter’s death, she was horrified to hear about Travis.

“My husband and I both said this poor family has no idea the nightmare they’re going to be living in the next few years,” Markita told the Now-Leader. “There’s never any closure. Don’t tell people time heals. Not when you lose a child.”

Travis died after a car crash at 64th Avenue and 176th Street. The Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student is being remembered as a star athlete in both baseball and soccer.

“It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday,” said Markita. “I spent my Mother’s Day trying to decide what my daughter would be cremated in. My Mother’s Day was changed forever, just as it will for this mother.”

Markita hopes to connect with this family to offer support like she does for many other families through her organization, Families for Justice.

“It’s still a struggle six years later,” she said. “There are times when you’re going through this, you think, ‘How am I going to survive this?’”

She urged the Selje family to connect with her at familiesforjustice@shaw.ca.

“Hopefully we can walk alongside their journey and tell them things that have been helpful for us, and also explain how the justice process works,” Markita added.

Surrey RCMP Corporal Scotty Schumann said police are “looking strongly” at impaired driving and speeding as being factors in the crash that took Travis’ life, but no charges have been laid.

In 2011, Kassandra was killed after being hit by a drunk driver at the age of 22 when she was on her way home from coaching softball. She was studying to be a teacher and was engaged to be married.

Natasha Leigh Warren, 35, of North Delta was drunk when she ran a red light at 152nd Street and 64th Avenue and slammed into the driver’s side of Kassandra’s BMW at 103 kilometres an hour.

Warren plead guilty and was sentenced in Surrey provincial court to 37 months in prison and is also prohibited from driving for eight years.

Markita has spent the last six years fighting for change. She said she’s been to Ottawa three times, spoken to many committees, talked to three premiers, three federal justice ministers and has a petition of support with more than 117,000 signatures.

“We’ve lost over 6,000 innocent people in that time. What does it take before it’s truly taken as a serious crime?” she asked.

“Stats show we lose four to six people a day in Canada to an impaired driver. And 190 a day are injured.”

“We’ve lost over 6,000 innocent people in that time. What does it take before it’s truly taken as a serious crime?” she asked.

“Stats show we lose four to six people a day in Canada to an impaired driver. And 190 a day are injured.”

Markita wants the government to change the Criminal Code to redefine the crime as vehicular homicide, and is also after tougher sentencing.

Even if that’s achieved, she said, the decisions lie in the hands of judges and “until they make this a tough sentence as a deterrent it will continue to happen.”

“Most people can only imagine what it’s like to lose a child,” said Markita.

“What you think it would be like, it’s a thousand times worse. Your entire world is turned upside down and there is absolutely nothing to make it better again.

“You cannot bring your child back.”

With files

from Tom Zytaruk