A grieving father who lost his daughter in a devastating car accident is speaking out for the first time to encourage drivers to practice safe driving.
Twenty-one-year-old Melissa Mimura was killed in a car accident on the Coquihalla highway near Merritt on April 2, 2017.
Mimura was a fourth-year sociology student in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at the UBCO’s Kelowna campus.
The young woman was returning to Kelowna from Vancouver when slippery conditions caused her to veer off the highway.
She exited her vehicle while waiting for help and was struck by another vehicle who was attempting to pass a trailer.
She died instantly.
“We were so happy, until this happened,” said her father Hideki Mimura on Sunday, clutching a picture of his daughter.
Mimura travelled from Japan to attend the sixth annual “One Crash is Too Many” memorial event in downtown Kelowna.
The event is part of the World Day of Remembrance for road crash victims in Canada.
“If we don’t take some time and reflect on that carnage, on that loss, then we’re really not going to be motivated to do something to change it,” said event organizer and personal injury lawyer Paul Hergott.
Many of the attendees hoped for changes in driving behaviour.
Distracted driving is a factor in more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities in the province, and kills about 78 people each year.
Earlier this month the province announced it is targeting repeat offenders with higher insurance premiums by designating distracted driving as high-risk behavior under ICBC.
“People know it’s against the law, they know they shouldn’t be doing it and they are still doing it. And they should have to pay more in insurance because they are driving up costs and they’re also causing deaths on our road,” B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby said earlier this month.
But according to Hergott, more needs to be done.
“What the province needs to do is ban all cell phone use while driving. Not just the hand held driving, because what you’re doing to British Columbians is saying, hands-free is perfectly safe, and it’s not, it’s just as dangerous,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mimura encouraged drivers to practice safe driving in an effort to spare other families from the same pain and suffering his family is going through.
“We don’t want any more people dying from a car accidents, especially, you don’t want to lose your children,” he said.
WATCH: NDP government to institute tougher penalties for distracted driving
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.