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Court hears the nightmare continues for Lodge family

Victim impact statements bring courtroom to tears as Cambridge teen sentenced in crash that killed Evan, 12, and Amanda Lodge, 10, in 2021
Screenshot 2021-07-08 3.04.39 PM
The lodge family: Dad Gregson, who was not in the collision, mom Susan, Evan, Amanda and Alyssa.

KITCHENER – Standing in the witness box of a Kitchener courtroom Tuesday, Susan Lodge clutched a framed portrait of her three children as she told the court how her life is filled with grief and darkness.

Pausing often to take a deep breath and wipe away tears, the Guelph mother spoke about the impact of the 2021 collision that claimed the life of her two oldest – Evan, 12, and Amanda, 10 – as they, along with younger sister Alyssa, headed for home following a day of skating, sledding and skiing.

“Will I ever experience pure joy again? At this point, I can’t see it,” she said, noting there are reminders of Evan and Amanda all around – from the frozen cookies they baked that are still in the freezer and window marker drawings to uncompleted crafts and Lego creations. “I’m learning to live with the pain."

Evan and Amanda died as a result of a Jan. 31, 2021 collision in North Dumfries. Evan was pronounced dead at Cambridge Memorial Hospital and Amanda was taken off life support several days later, with some of her organs donated to help others live.

Alyssa, now 10, was seriously injured and continues to receive physiotherapy in hopes of recovering from her broken pelvis and ribs, along with an injured foot. Susan escaped serious harm but continues to experience nerve damage in her leg from the seatbelt.

On Tuesday, a Cambridge teenager pleaded guilty to two counts of careless driving causing death and once count of careless driving causing injury. Due in large part to his age – he was 17 years old at the time of the crash – the court issued him a $6,000 fine, a three-year-driving suspension and ordered him to complete 200 hours of community service, which may involve working with Susan on a public education campaign about the dangers of inattentive driving.

“When his fine has been paid, his volunteer hours completed and his parole over, our pain will still be there,” Susan said in a written statement provided to GuelphToday following the hearing. “The sentence given by the court today will inconvenience him for a brief period of time, but long after it is over, we will still be struggling to get through the days as we carry the immense burden of the loss of our beloved children.

“He will go on to dream about his future, but for us, the nightmare will never be over.”

In the statement, Susan notes her family initially carried no anger toward the offending driver, assuming he felt remorse and would want to do everything in his power to cooperate and truthfully answer questions with a goal of lessening their suffering.

“Unfortunately, as time went on, we came to realize that this was not the case,” she wrote. “We are left feeling angry and betrayed.”

Court heard the offending driver, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, blew through a stop sign in the rural area while travelling 64 km/h. He twice provided police with a password to unlock his cell phone, but neither worked. However, police were able to crack into the device and found it wasn’t being used in the moments leading up to the crash.

Family members told the court they have many questions about that day, including what the offending driver was thinking at the time, but have yet to receive answers.

This despite the family and driver participating in a mediation process that led up to the joint submission on penalty. He also declined to comment when given an opportunity Tuesday.

"I feel very little true happiness any more," Gregson told the court, noting he realized early in his post-secondary education that he didn't have career aspirations, he just wanted to be a father. "I'm still a dad, but a significantly diminished one.

"I so desperately miss my babies, Evan and Amanda."

The court heard nine victim impact statements in all, including from Gregson, Susan and Alyssa Lodge.

"When children die, the world stops making sense," said Helen Fagan, Susan's sister and the children's aunt, explaining there are two empty seats at family gatherings. "I miss their beautiful smiles, their warm hugs."

Family friend Jennifer Holland said she and her children continue to feel grief over the loss of the two Lodge children and experience anxiety that it could happen to other loved ones.

"How do we do better? How do we prevent horrible situations like this? And how do we move on and grow and forgive?" Holland said. "I don't have these answers right now but I will continue to do my work and support our kids, the Lodge family and our community.

"And I hope one day to hear of the defendant doing something to make a difference as well."

About 30 supporters attended the court hearing, filling much of the small courtroom. 

“I rarely see such support in these matters,” commented Crown attorney Michael Michaud.

At various points during the hearing, the sound of tearful sniffles drowned out the voice of those addressing the court.


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Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
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