The family of Samantha Wylie has been left questioning why an accused impaired driver was quickly released without bail after a fatal collision.
Her children and their spouses say justice has failed them and are encouraging people to reach out to the MLAs to speak out to prevent it from happening to other people.
"Tell them what's happening on that highway," says Haley, Samantha's daughter. "Tell them what's happening in the justice system, because we cannot continue this catch-and-release program because somebody else is going to get hurt, and somebody else is going to have their family ripped apart like my family. You know, she's out of jail before we can even do a celebration of life."
Samantha Wylie, 53, a retired highly-decorated army veteran, will never see her first grandchild after her motorcycle was struck head-on by an SUV on Hwy. 1A, near Morley Rd on Aug. 19.
Kendra Bigstony, 33, of Morley, faces multiple charges from the fatal collision. Four of them are impaired charges, and she's alleged to have been driving while her license was suspended and failing to remain at the scene of the accident.
She was held overnight in custody and less than 24 hours later was released by a Justice of the Peace the next day on no-deposit bail.
Haley lives in Kelowna and was visiting her mom and spouse Elmo Nanemahoo in Caroline, AB when the collision occur. Samantha and Elmo were on their way back from Canmore at the time.
Haley couldn't face the world after receiving the shocking news.
"For the first couple of days, I didn't leave the house," says Haley. "I didn't eat, all I did was lay there. I couldn't face the world."
"When I found out she's [the accused] been released, my sadness and grief turned into pure anger and all I wanted was to bring justice to what had happened to my mom. She's killed the patriarch of our family, and she was my best friend. She's very close to all of us. I am just absolutely heartbroken that our justice system could do that."
"The fact that this person allegedly has other offenses of a similar nature against her and they just let her out to go back on the streets, to drink again, and to hurt another family. I know we can't bring back my mom, I want to, but I can't, but if I could save just one person, if I could alleviate the pain for one family, that's my goal, because this is not fair."
Adding to the sorrow is knowing Samantha will never meet her first grandchild. Haley and her spouse Tyler are expecting their first child within weeks.
Elmo was lead bike when the black SUV suddenly crossed the yellow line and was heading toward him. He immediately headed for the ditch, since there are no shoulders on this section of the highway.
"I just kept going to the ditch and remarkedly, I just stayed upright for a period of time before I got back on the highway. I knew something had happened and I made a U-turn to come back. When I got there, the bike was on its side in the middle of the road, and it was over."
On May 1, 2019, Samantha retired as a Master Warrant Officer after 32 years of service in the army.
She was a highly decorated officer who had served our country on multiple tours in Afghanistan, Gulf War, Kuwait, Iraq, Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, and Israel.
Her son Eric calls her a trailblazer.
"She was in there in a time when women weren't respected, and they weren't treated as equals," he says. "She paved the way for more than enough women throughout the military."
Samantha and Elmo Nanemahoo had just bought their dream acreage in Caroline and were beginning the next phase of their lives together. Samantha had begun a new career in holistic healing.
Family members say they were told by RCMP that it's rare for a repeat offender with these level of charges to be released over the weekend by a Justice of the Peace.
The family is holding a private celebration of Samantha's life this Saturday in Caroline.
They will return to Cochrane when Bigstony appears in Cochrane Provincial Court on Aug. 30.