The Greater Sudbury Ball Hockey League is pleased to unveil The D.J Hancock Memorial Championship.
A special thank you goes out to Jaymie and The Hancock Family for allowing the league to memorialize D.J through our new Championship 💙💙
Sudbury Star Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Kim and Dean Hancock never imagined they would bury their own son, let alone stand helpless on the side of a highway, amid a scene of flashing lights, twisted metal and broken glass, while D.J. Hancock’s life faded.
They had high hopes for their son, born Dean Maxwell Junior on Feb. 28, 1996. His mother though he might be an architect, perhaps take over his father’s business.
He was bubbly, active, outgoing, well-liked by his friends and close with his parents and his older sister, Jaymie-Lyne. He talked about having a big family of his own, maybe 10 kids.
On Aug. 21, 2014, at around 11 p.m., the Hancocks left T.M. Davies Community Centre in Lively, where 18-year-old D.J. took part in tryouts for the Sudbury Nickel Barons, a team in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
D.J. was in one car, his parents following in another, as they headed for their home in Sudbury. Dean remembers looking ahead, seeing the taillights of his son’s car, then pulling into Tim Hortons for a quick stop.
Minutes later, they were on the road again, driving down the Highway 17 bypass. It wasn’t long before they came on the scene of a serious collision.
Kim immediately texted D.J., but got no reply. Dean got out of the vehicle, told her to wait, not to worry. It wasn’t him. Couldn’t be him.
It was. Not far away was their son’s car, the driver’s side nearly destroyed from a near head-on impact with a pickup truck. D.J. was pinned inside, his legs crushed, arms broken, bleeding.
“He drove up to the crash where D.J. was pinned in his car and still alive,” Kim Hancock recalled on Tuesday, during a press conference for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada. “Approximately one hour after, he still remained pinned in his car and passed away at that time.”
D.J. Hancock was 18.
One day later, the Hancocks learned just how senseless, how needless, how preventable their son’s death had been. The pickup driver, 39-year-old Walter Carter of Lively, had been drinking and had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood at the time of the crash.
Carter eventually pleaded guilty to several charges, including impaired driving causing death, and was sentenced to five years in jail.
D.J.’s story is not unique, sadly, as local police can attest and as the Hancocks have learned from their visits to victims’ conferences and their dealings with anti-drinking-and-driving organizations such as MADD Canada, as well as local groups Action Sudbury and Impact 6/21.
“Stories like ours can happen to anyone,” Kim said. “Lives can change in the blink of an eye, all because of a choice to get behind the wheel impaired – and it is a choice.
“These red ribbon campaigns have become a big part of our lives since D.J.’s life was taken. If we can make enough of an impact to save one family from the pain and suffering that goes along with impaired driving, then it is all worth it.”
MADD Canada launched Project Red Ribbon in conjunction with the official start of the Big Nickel Hockey Tournament, the premier minor hockey showcase in Northern Ontario, as a tribute to D.J. Hancock, who played in the tournament five times.
Project Red Ribbon materials, distributed across Canada, will feature a photo of D.J. and the message “Impaired Drivers Create Penalties that Never End.”
MADD also produced a video about D.J. and his death, featuring interviews with Kim, Dean and Jaymie-Lyne, which was played at the launch event.
For nearly 30 years, MADD Canada’s red ribbon has been a symbol of the fight against impaired driving, and the focal point of a yearly campaign where volunteers go into the community and distribute ribbons to be displayed on vehicles or worn on key chains, purses, briefcases and backpacks.
They do it to spread a simple message, but one that bears repeating in a country where there were a reported 1,082 impairment-related motor-vehicle fatalities in 2010 – a statistic MADD considers to be a conservative estimate.
For more information about Project Red Ribbon, visitwww.madd.ca.