Michelle Brown says her son, Stephen, had a bright future ahead of him — he maintained good grades, was involved with the robotics team, was an athlete and had plans to become an army reservist once he reached the age of 16.
“He was a good boy,” said his mother. “He never got in trouble.”
Stephen, 15, was killed in a dirt bike accident Oct. 6 near Lethbridge, and his mother says the tragedy was preventable. She is determined to make sure others do not have to deal with the pain she is experiencing as the result of her son’s death.
“For this to happen to him is so senseless, and that’s exactly what it is. It should have never happened. … I can’t bring back Steve, but I can look at trying to save somebody else’s child or an adult.”
Brown said she has not been able to find any rules or regulations regarding the installation of barricades on public or private roads without the presence of markings or tags to alert others of a barricade’s presence.
The access road Stephen was riding on led to farmland and a scrap yard.
Brown said a chain stretched over a portion of the dirt road clotheslined him as he was riding the dirt bike. Stephen’s neck hit the chain, killing him instantly. She said he was wearing protective gear, including a bike helmet.
“My son was going down there on that road, which he then would have met up with the railway bed and … met with his friend. … It was a dark chain, and he didn’t see it.”
According to Brown, her son’s death is not an isolated incident, as barricades on dirt roads have injured or killed others, both young people and adults. She said in some cases such barricades should not even exist, while other times they lack markers to indicate their presence.
The chain on the dirt access road near Lethbridge has since been removed, along with the posts that supported it. While noting it leads to private land, Brown said the road itself is not privately owned.
“Why would a chain have even been across this access road?” she said. “Even if it was private property, there should be proper rules and regulations in place where it has to be a proper fence or gate put up there, and if they’re going to put up barricades like rope or chain, it has to be visibly marked so it can be seen.”
In the aftermath of Stephen’s death, Brown’s goal is to establish a law in her son’s honour called Stephen’s Law.
“I will work on that until something happens in this province so people are protected,” she said.
“Something has to happen now. My son has lost his life. He’s not going to get a chance to live a life, and he has a mother and father and family and friends who are just devastated. I don’t even know how I am going to face the rest of my life without him. He was my world.”
Brown has been in touch with the provincial government, and has been told it is investigating the matter.