Bob Reid doesn’t like to live with “what ifs.”
But ever since he tried to rescue Cindy Devine from the fiery crash that claimed her life in October 2020, he’s thought about what might have saved her. Now, he’s joined her friends and family to fight for Cindy’s Law, a push to require fire extinguishers in every vehicle on the road.
“I’ve been carrying this around for two years. I don’t share my story, because I don’t want people knowing what I saw,” Reid said. “But on the other hand, we gotta turn her beautiful life around into something meaningful, and this is the only way I can think of to do it.”
Reid said he’s been told he wouldn’t have been able to douse the car, consumed by flames, with just a fire extinguisher. But the blaze started small, and Devine was alive, though trapped, after being hit head-on by a drunk driver on Highbury Avenue near Glanworth Drive.
“If anyone saw what I had to — just hand a guy like me a fire extinguisher, so at least I can try,” said Reid, who spoke to Devine at the scene before the fire started.
“Let’s just do what smart human beings should do. I don’t even know why I need to fight for this.”
Devine, a mom of four from St. Thomas, was 35.
Reid, who stopped at the crash on his way home, recently gave a victim impact statement at the sentencing of Tyler Besterd, who pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death. Besterd was sentenced to 5½ years in prison earlier this month.
Devine, like Reid, had a love of music. She was the lead singer in a country band, while he is the lead singer and guitarist in the London band Bobnoxious. She was artistic in many ways, boosting sales at the family craft store with her creativity and classes.
Reid was set to pick up Devine’s guitar — freshly restrung — on Thursday night as Bobnoxious planned to perform for a benefit concert in her honour. The show was raising money for the movement behind Cindy’s Law.
They’ll be singing the tune Sad Songs, off his band’s E.O.A album, a title that gives a nod to London’s east of Adelaide neighbourhood.
“That’ll be hard,” Reid said.
The evening at Eastside Bar and Grill featured a lineup of bands, including Aaron Allen, Brad Gibb All Star Band, Brother Time and Heart Attack Kids. The $10 cover at the door and an online auction of mainly music- and sports-related items all go toward the fight to make fire extinguishers mandatory in every car, truck and personal vehicle in Ontario. The campaign, started by Cindy’s family and friends, also looks to put extinguishers in the hands of those who may not be able to afford them.
Reid hasn’t been able to write any new material since Devine’s death. He’s more forgetful, and his brain struggles to find words, including lyrics, he said.
“This is what happens to people who have to deal with these kinds of things. You have triggers for the rest of your life. I could be happily doing something and then, you know — it’s just hard to explain, it hits you and then it’s there. And then I go back and try to force myself to just see her beautiful face instead of remembering,” he said.
“I’m kind of hoping playing Cindy’s guitar will get me over another hump.”
Reid and Devine’s husband Richard cemented a guitar into a memorial at the site of the crash. Richard and Devine’s sister feel like family to him now, Reid said. They’re connected by pain.
But he also sees signs from Devine, saying she’s “on my shoulder every day. She’s always saying hello.”
Reid hopes the benefit, and fighting for change, will help him move toward healing.
“I just can’t put it in a closet and shut the door. It never works. So gotta do what we can do and, man, just hope we can make a difference.”
IF YOU GO
What: Fundraising concert and online auction to push for a law requiring fire extinguishers in every vehicle
When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
Where: Eastside Bar and Grill, 750 Hamilton Rd.
Costs: $10 at the door. To donate or bid on online auction items, go to trellis.org/fire-extinguishers-for-cindy-cindys-law