Published on September 13, 2013
Daniel Carter, shown here at a family reunion in 2009, would have turned 24 years old on Wednesday. Nearly three years ago, the young man was struck by a vehicle outside Stavros Lounge and succumbed to his injuries days later. The trial of the female motorist accused of hitting him and driving away took place this week.
Published on September 13, 2013
Robert Burns and Karen Anthony-Burns, the stepfather and mother of Daniel Carter, sit on a memorial bench dedicated to his memory along with Carter’s dog Buddy. Carter, 21, was hit by a car outside Stavros Lounge in Sept. 2010 and later died of his injuries. The trial of the female motorist accused of hitting him and driving away took place this week.
Herald photo by Matt Gardner
His absence is most notable at Christmas and Thanksgiving -- but not a day goes by without the family of Daniel Carter thinking of him at least once.
“Every day there’s a thought there -- at least one or many during the course of a day,” stepfather Robert Burns said. “That’s when we think about Daniel.”
“We’ll see someone who looks about his size that walks like him,” mother Karen Anthony-Burns said. “Or then we go into Rona -- he used to work there. We’re getting better, but we couldn’t even go in Rona without tearing up.”
It was nearly three years ago that Daniel succumbed to his injuries after being hit by a vehicle outside of Stavros Lounge on Sept. 19, 2010. At the time of his death, he was only 21 years old.
This week, the trial of the female motorist accused of hitting and killing Daniel before driving away took place. Only the judge’s verdict now remains.
Whatever his decision, the loss of a beloved son and brother will always remain with Daniel’s family.
“The outcome’s not going to change our lives,” Karen said.
“It isn’t. We are still going to be living with our loss. We are going to live with this forever.”
Recalling the chaotic situation after police first told them their son had been seriously injured and was in the hospital, the couple remembered the difficulties of getting family members to Saskatoon and making sure Daniel’s dog Buddy was taken care of.
Family members stayed with Daniel for two days before doctors told them he was living strictly on life support.
For roughly a week after the initial incident, his family had little knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Daniel’s death.
“The day of the funeral is when the police officer came -- because at that point, we didn’t know,” Karen said. “It was just that somebody had hit Daniel and left.
“It was just so sad to think that, and then they came the day of his funeral to say that they were charging someone.”
The case worked its way through the legal system slowly. A preliminary inquiry took place in late January and early February 2012. The trial itself was originally set to begin in March 2013 before being postponed to September due to health reasons.
In the meantime, the family worked its way through what Karen described as “unbearable grief.”
“You just make yourself get up every day and you do things,” she said. “You do things for your other children. You have to maintain your family unit. And for them, they’re going through their grief as well.”
Described as “the baby of the family,” Daniel -- who would have turned 24 on Wednesday -- had two older brothers, Derin and Devin, and a sister, Laura.
He also had a large circle of friends, who expressed their affection through an outpouring of Facebook messages that re-appear every year on his birthday.
“He was a good friend to people,” Robert said. “He accepted people.”
“He had a great personality. There’s just no way of getting around it,” Karen added. “He was just great with people and he could make you smile easily.”
At the time of his passing, Daniel was working for a paving company south of Prince Albert, but had ambitions of learning a skilled trade.
An avid golfer and video game aficionado, Daniel was known for his natural athletic ability. Robert noted how the young man would always jump the fence outside their home rather than opening the gate.
Karen remembered one day walking Buddy along the river near Eighth Avenue when she saw Daniel and his friends.
“He had just gotten off work and he was wearing work boots, and they were running,” she recalled.
He was just great with people and he could make you smile easily. Karen Anthony-Burns
“He said to me, ‘Give me Buddy and I’ll take him. We’re going for a run.’ I said, ‘How are you going to run in work boots?’ He says, ‘I can run. I can run faster than these guys!’ So off they went with the dog.”
In the aftermath of Daniel’s death and through the preliminary inquiry, family members recall a feeling of emotional numbness, mixed with disbelief that someone could hit a person with their car and leave them.
At one point in the trial, the accused said that she wondered how the victim’s family was feeling, noting the grief and anger she would feel if something happened to her own six-month-old baby.
Daniel’s family brushed off her sentiments.
“How does she know how we’re feeling?” Robert asked. “It’s never happened to her. She may think she does, but …”
“She has no idea,” Karen finished. “She has no idea, and the interesting thing is that all of us could write down minute for minute the call that came and what happened, and we remember.
“We remember vividly. So it’s pretty hard to listen to some of that.”
Shortly after Daniel’s death, his family was able to secure a memorial bench along the river, to which they attached a plaque reading, “Your smile lit up the world.”
When Karen and Robert were married last year, they held their wedding near the bench as a way for Daniel to be there in spirit.
They regularly visit Daniel’s grave to tend the flowers or sweep cobwebs off. Many of his friends will leave mementos in a small basket nearby.
But the young man’s legacy also lives on through his infant nephew and partial namesake, Emmett Daniel Carter.
“Emmett turns two tomorrow, and that’s Derin’s son,” Karen said on Thursday.
“Daniel never ever would have known of Emmett. Emmett though, seems to have -- from the time he was an infant -- had quite an affection for any pictures of Daniel.”
As they await the judge’s verdict, Robert thanked those who participated in court and shared their stories of what happened.
Asked how members of the community could honour Daniel’s memory, Karen had a ready answer: Don’t drink and drive.
“That would be a positive thing for the community and for his friends,” she said.
“A lot of his friends have really taken that kind of thing to heart, and have chosen not to drink. They just saw what a tragedy came of that.”