Doug Clark is a man on a mission that both honours his son and brings awareness regarding dangerous driving.
The ultimate goal for the Chemainus father is to start up a jeep that was his son Ryan’s dream and take it on the road for speaking engagements to enlighten young people about the perils of dangerous and reckless driving. First it has to be assembled piece by piece – a painstaking process that’s already been a long time in the making, but one Clark is determined to see through to fruition.
“It’s been three years of doing this,” noted Clark of the project that began in September of 2015.
But the pieces are literally starting to come together with the assistance of so many people willing to volunteer their services.
Doug and Chrissi Clark’s son Ryan was just 18 when he was killed on March 29, 2009 while riding as a passenger in a car near Chemainus. It’s an accident they say didn’t need to happen and poor choices led to the reckless and dangerous actions that claimed Ryan’s life.
“That’s what started me thinking, you can have designated drivers, but you have to make sure they’re safe,” said Doug.
Kathy and Dale Irving immediately started a hockey tournament in memory of the goaltender who was playing with the Comox Valley Glacier Kings of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League at the time. The event is still going today as the Cowichan Valley Memorial Midget C tournament and honours other local residents who died at a young age from unfortunate incidents.
“Every one of these parents, I understand their pain,” Doug reasoned. “It never goes away and it has a rippling effect.”
Ryan had only been driving a couple of years, but knew exactly what he wanted.
“He had two loves – he loved hockey and he loved his jeep,” Doug stressed.
The 1994 Jeep YJ he owned was just the beginning. Ryan read every Jeep magazine he could get his hands on and his passion developed into an expertise about everything pertaining to the Jeep.
He wanted to make his Jeep into something special and talked to his parents about his plans. A short time before he died, Ryan had written down an essential wish list of The Jeep in Five Years, a detailed plan of where he wanted to take it.
That document he hung on his bedroom wall was taken to heart by Doug and is driving him to have it completed just as Ryan wanted.
“After he died, I didn’t go in there for a year,” Doug indicated.
“A few years later, I took it down and I went to see (Chemainus Secondary School principal at the time) Sian Peterson at the high school. If I get this Jeep built, can I come down and talk to the kids about making choices?”
Peterson was naturally receptive and Clark’s been in contact with ICBC officials to see what becoming a speaker for ICBC would entail and capture the imagination of young people and leave them with some strong messages about making wise choices in difficult situations.
Vehicle fanatics will understand right away the extent of Ryan’s five-year vision, with the following details: drivetrain – 5.7 litre V8 hemi, Borg Warner T-18 transfer case, Advance Adapters Atlas two-transfer case (two speed), JE Reel driveshafts (flanges in rear), Tera hemi swap kit; axles – high pinion DANA 44 front and rear, 35 spline chromoly axle shafts, ARB air lockers front and rear, 4:10 Superior gear; suspension – spring over axle, Rubicon Express SOA springs, Tera high steer kit; tires and wheels – Black Rock type 8, 37×12.50R15 TBD; body and armour – Gen right tubeless rocker guards, front tube fenders, rear crusher corners and flares, oversize tire carrier; Interior – Corbeau racing seats, Gen right roll cage, Grant steering wheel.
“When you fabricate something to be a modified version of a stock Jeep, you have to tear it all down,” explained Doug.
“You tear it down, when you build it back up, you modify it the way you want. Then you tear it back down for body work and paint and then put it back together again for the final time.”
Helping to make it happen are several area companies and employees of those companies, including: T.D. Repairs; Lordco; Isherwood; Scott Douglas body shop; B&H Tire; Kal Tire; Harbourview Volkswagen; Linex; Rod’s Auto Glass; Re/Max Ocean Pointe, Chemainus; Boulter Machine Shop; Dynamic Heavy Duty Repairs; Bumper To Bumper; Gold In The Net; Hue-Nue Art Works; Rondexx; and Avalta Paint.
You can check out more on the Ryan’s Dream – The Jeep Project Facebook page.
Ryan would surely approve of what’s going on, Doug strongly believes.
“Even to where it’s at right now, he’d be speechless – a kid’s dream,” he said.
“It’s been a journey where it’s affected many people along the line so far. There’s a lot more work yet to be done, but we’re getting there.
“Our hope is that we can see gain come out of our family’s loss and that Ryan’s story will help other young people stop and think,” Doug indicated. “In this way, a similar tragedy may be avoided.”