25 years after impaired driving crash, survivor shows scars, encourages others to embrace theirs

It’s been 25 years since Laura Beauparlant, driving back to Sheridan college after a weekend visiting her family in Guelph, Ont., was struck by an impaired driver.

“It was just like any other November evening and all of a sudden there’s headlights coming at me on a divided highway .. you don’t really have time to react, it’s one of those things that happens very quickly,” she said.

She was 18 years old, trapped, afraid and alone, until a kind stranger stopped to help.

Five years ago, Laura told Global News she was anxious to find that man to thank him.

Read more: 20 years later, survivor of impaired driving crash searches for man who helped her

She remembered his name was Martin: he had an earring, a buzz cut and smelled of cigarettes.

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Her post on Facebook at the time went viral and Martin’s former girlfriend helped to track him down.

Laura finally got her chance to thank Martin in person.

It was the end of one chapter, but the start of a new one.

“The last time my scars were photographed was for a lawsuit, it was to capture the ugliness and the trauma that I went through and I wanted to capture the beauty and the strength of them,” she said.

Read more: Ontario government won’t pursue criminal charges for some impaired drivers due to COVID-19 court backlog

To mark 25 years since the crash, she organized a photo shoot.

Laura’s femur was shattered, she had 18 pins and a metal plate in her leg, and nine surgeries to help her heal.

Today, she embraces the scars left behind, and encourages others to do the same.

“Some are visible scars, some are invisible scars, but we all have them and they teach us things about ourselves and we can share those lessons with others to help them,” she said.

Laura long ago forgave the impaired driver who caused the crash.

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Read more: Man charged with impaired driving causing death in Mill Woods crash

She has thanked the kind stranger who stayed with her during her darkest hour.

Now she celebrates the scars that mark the experience and make her who she is.

“It shows that there is strength in every experience,” she said.

Read more: Peterborough man charged with impaired driving following traffic stop

Laura said she hopes others are inspired by the photographs of her scars, and the story they depict.

“I would love to start a movement of people, like ‘Hey, these are my scars and they make me beautiful,’” she said.

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