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Charges laid 10 months after Edmonton teen’s death provide relief for parents

Family of Edmonton teen killed in hit and run speak about charges
WATCH ABOVE: 18-year-old Jade Belcourt was struck by a vehicle and killed in May 2017. As Sarah Kraus reports, police have now laid charges.

For nearly a year after their 18-year-old son was killed in a hit-and-run collision in a west Edmonton backyard, Jade Belcourt‘s parents have been anxiously awaiting justice.

“It’s just been a hard, long year,” Rick Dagg explained.

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On May 22, 2017, Dagg and his girlfriend, Rhonda Belcourt were inside their Aldergrove-area home near 85 Avenue and 190 Street, when they heard smashing and ran out into the backyard — where a truck had just crashed through the fence and sped off.

Rhonda Belcourt sits next to her boyfriend, holding her phone with a picture of her son Jade, who died in May 2017.
Rhonda Belcourt sits next to her boyfriend, holding her phone with a picture of her son Jade, who died in May 2017. Sarah Kraus / Global News

Jade was twisted up under the fence and blood was coming out of his ears. He died soon after.

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“He was just quiet,” Rhonda said. “He played video games and he always smiled, was always loving. Always willing to help.”

Police tape surrounds an area in west Edmonton after a hit and run, Monday, May 22, 2017.
Police tape surrounds an area in west Edmonton after a hit and run, Monday, May 22, 2017. Laurel Gregory, Global News

Jade had just moved to Edmonton and was looking for a job before he went to trade-school in the fall.

“It’s just torn the family apart,” Rhonda said. “My kids are all suffering, the surviving ones.”

According to Rhonda, the incident started after an argument between Jade’s older brother and the man driving the truck.

Police speak to residents after a collision in a west end neighbourhood, Monday, May 22, 2017.
Police speak to residents after a collision in a west end neighbourhood, Monday, May 22, 2017. Laurel Gregory, Global News

At the time, police issued a warrant for Justin Handbury and charged him with second-degree murder. Days later, that charge was withdrawn — shocking Jade’s parents.

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“I didn’t understand it. It really pissed me off to be honest with you,” Dagg said.

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“The charges should have stayed at the beginning,” Belcourt said. “They shouldn’t have been dropped. It took me to a place where no mother should have to be.”

As months passed by without answers, the couple started to lose faith in the justice system.

READ MORE: Edmonton family wants answers after teenage son’s hit-and-run death

“You obviously want vigilante justice off the hop,” Dagg said. “That went through everybody’s mind. How could it not? But we’re not that sort of people.”

“I was just in a place where I didn’t feel anybody was doing anything,” Belcourt said.

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To try and escape the memories of their son’s untimely death, the couple moved to Calgary.

“There’s been no closure. It just plays in your mind, time and time again. You try to forget it and you can’t forget it,” Dagg said.

But recently, that all changed — when police charged Handbury with 10 offences, including criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.

Justin Handbury
Justin Handbury Supplied by EPS

Jade’s parents are disappointed it’s not a murder charge, but happy to see some form of justice. They’re thankful the police never gave up.

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“It changed us in different ways. Some things are good, but most of it’s been bad. But we’re trying to start anew. It’s all we can do,” Dagg said.

But no matter what happens now in court, it won’t bring Jade back.

“Love your kids every day, because you never know when they’re going to be gone.”

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