'We all know it’s going to be a hard road ahead'
Dominic, Madison, Leah and Christian.
Those are the names of the four Glace Bay children who tragically lost their mother in a fatal motor vehicle accident last month on a Cape Breton highway.
They range in age from two to six. All four now reside with their father, who was only recently separated from their mother.
According to their paternal grandmother, the siblings are struggling to comprehend the consequences of the accident that took the life of the woman they knew as "Mommy," someone who was always there, someone they will never see again.
“They have their moments, the oldest one understands more but they all know something really bad happened,” said Margaret Napoleon, whose 30-year-old son, Craig, is the father of the four children.
The accident happened on Friday, Sept. 20, at about 7 p.m. when an east-bound van carrying the four children and their mother, Billie Jean Blanchard, left Highway 125 and rolled into a ditch near Leitches Creek. All six occupants, including the 27-year-old male driver from North Sydney, were transported to hospital. Blanchard, who sustained life-threatening injuries, was then transported to Halifax via LifeFlight.
The driver and the children, who sustained only minor injuries, were released from Cape Breton Regional Hospital the next day. Blanchard died five days after the accident.
The day she passed away, Craig Napoleon, the father of her children, expressed his feelings in an emotional Facebook post.
In a message to Billie Jean he wrote: “Just know as long as I draw breath, our kids will be my only priority, they’ll never forget their beautiful Mommy and how much you did for them and how much you love them. We Love You and We All Miss You!”
To his children, he wrote: “My mind or my heart can’t even comprehend the horrible things you’ve seen and the sounds you’ve heard or the memories you’ll have to carry with you. I wish I was able to steal them all from your thoughts. I promise to keep your Mommy’s memory alive and make sure you all that you were never off, and never will be off, her mind for a second. Mommy Loves You and Misses You All So Much!”
“Just know as long as I draw breath, our kids will be my only priority." — Craig Napolean
Craig has since left his fishing industry job to take care of the children on a full-time basis.
Craig’s mother said that while her son’s family doesn’t possess much in the way of material riches, they have always shared a lot of love.
“Those kids loved their mommy and she loved them, and they love their father, and he loves them, too, beyond measure,” said grandmother Napoleon, a nurse who plans to take out another mortgage to finance a second house so she can give the one she presently resides in to her son and the children.
“We all know it’s going to be a hard road ahead, but to be positive there is still lots of love in their lives.”
And, of course, that also extends to Blanchard’s side of the family, which includes the late New Waterford woman’s parents, her siblings, and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. She is survived by her mother, Debby Blanchard, and father Billy Fraser.
The children received some immediate assistance from regional hospital nurses who collectively raised about $500 to help them out. And family friend Bridgett MacLeod has started a GoFundMe initiative to give the siblings’ father some financial assistance as he adapts to life as a single father of four very young children.
“The GoFundMe account is called Four Little Angels, and that’s what they are — four little angels who now have to grow up without a mother,” said MacLeod.
Meanwhile, RCMP public information officer Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said the investigation is ongoing.
“There haven’t been any charges laid — we’re waiting on the lab results and the collision analyst’s report,” said Clarke.
In Glace Bay, the results of the police investigation mean little at this time to the four children left without a mother.
Their names are Dominic, Madison, Leah and Christian.