Driver who killed teen still on the road; ‘tough pill to swallow,’ mom says
James Christian McIntosh, 5, was walking through a Penticton crosswalk with his dad in September 2015 when an off-duty RCMP officer driving a truck hit him.
The toddler, the light of his parent’s life, died.
The RCMP officer, Ace Jimmy Stewart, was fined $1,500 and kept his driver’s licence.
WATCH: RCMP say it happened around 5 p.m. at the intersection of Fairview Road and Highway 97. An off-duty police officer driving his personal vehicle collided with a pedestrian.
Linda Evans’ daughter Josie, 15, was hit and killed in 2010 as she walked along the shoulder of Bottom Wood Lake Road in Lake Country at night.
The driver of the pick-up truck that hit Josie Evans, a senior, didn’t lose his licence or go to jail. He was issued a $1,000 fine and was banned from driving at night.
Evans feels the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
“I think he should have lost his licence,” Evans said.
This scenario — a pedestrian or cyclist is hit and killed and the driver receives a light penalty — is playing out across the country. Global News has spoken to many families from coast to coast who are outraged that careless drivers aren’t facing stiffer fines after hitting and killing their loved ones.
On average, 59 pedestrians and 10 cyclists are killed in B.C. every year after being struck by a motor vehicle.
WATCH: Life is cheap: Trudi Mason recounts harrowing story of losing her friend to a pickup truck
Trudi Mason of Lethbridge, Alta. was cycling with her best friend when a truck hit the both of them. Mason’s friend died. Mason says the court process ignores the fact a person was killed.
When a cyclist is struck and killed, the consequences for the driver are much the same.
“People always say, if you’re on a bicycle you’re taking your life into your own hands,” said Landon Bradshaw, president of the Kelowna Cycling Coalition.
Bradshaw feels that until the laws get tougher on motorists who kill pedestrians and cyclists, nothing will change.
“We need to get something out there to the government that the laws actually value a cyclist just as much as they do a car.”
Why do motorists who kill pedestrians end up with such lenient punishments?
Grant Gray is a former prosecutor and now criminal defence lawyer in Kelowna. He said the reason why most motorists who kill don’t end up in jail is because there was no intent.
“In a murder case for example, someone has specifically done what they intended to do — kill somebody. The other offences are more negligence-based where somebody might be intending to drive in a manner that they know shouldn’t be driving but not therefore necessarily intending to kill someone,” Gray said.
Gray points out that losing your licence for killing someone might not sound like punishment, but it can have a lasting impact.
“Particularly on someone who depends on their driver’s licence for their livelihood. They may end up unemployable,” Gray said.
But in Linda Evans’ case, the man who killed her daughter is still driving today. It’s a tough pill for her to swallow, she said. And she’s been told that suing the driver won’t provide her with any sense of justice.
“I was told the loss of a child isn’t worth financial loss so you probably wouldn’t gain much doing that. So, I was advised by lawyers not to bother,” Evans said.
But the legal system has put a value on Linda’s daughter’s life. One thousand dollars.
WATCH: Life is cheap: What provincial ministers have to say about careless drivers facing minor penalties
Global News sought out responses from 8 of 10 provincial governments regarding whether the justice system fairly deals with people who kill with their cars. Three ministers agreed to do an on camera interview.
Have you or someone you know been involved in the legal aftermath of a serious accident? Is there a story you’d like to tell? Let us know using the form below.