Friends and family gathered at a northwest Calgary intersection on Christmas Eve to remember a couple killed a year ago.
Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the deaths of Lucinda Yaworski and George Balint.
The couple was killed at a crosswalk on John Laurie Boulevard by Hawkwood Drive when they were out for a walk on the morning of Dec. 24, 2018.
Friends placed flowers at the intersection, remembering Lucinda as a kind and considerate person who dedicated much of her life to volunteering with immigrants and refugees in Calgary.
“We miss her terribly,” said Lucinda’s sister Bev Yaworski on Tuesday.
“It’s extra painful because of the time of year that it happened, and how it happened and where it happened: two blocks from their home in daylight on Christmas Eve. They would’ve thought that it was safe. You think you’re safe in your own community.”
The driver who hit the couple was charged with careless driving, and was given a $2,000 fine and a three-month driving suspension last month. That’s the maximum sentence under Alberta traffic safety laws.
The family has started a petition — via email at Changecarelessdrivinglaws@outlook.com — that they plan to send to the province, calling for stricter sentences for careless driving that causes injury or death.
“It was a shock to realize that having killed two people the maximum penalty is $2,000 and 90-day license suspension. It just flabbergasted my sister and myself,” said Judy York, Lucinda’s sister, at the crash site Tuesday afternoon.
In September, Bev got a letter from Transportation Minister Ric McIver saying Alberta Transportation has no plans to change the provincial penalties related to careless driving.
Friends believe that tougher penalties would get the attention of drivers.
“Times have changed. We as humans in our cars have busy lives and we have a lot of distractions going on. We have laws in place for distracted driving, we have laws in place for impaired driving but for a careless driving charge — I know it’s an accident but we all have to become more responsible,” said family friend Kimberlee Wolfe as she laid flowers at the intersection on Tuesday.
“It’s an insult the way that the law is set up. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone but it’s an insult.”
On Tuesday, Global News received a statement from McIver.
“I extend my sympathies to the family of Lucinda Yaworski at this difficult time and reiterate what I said in my letter of correspondence, that we appreciate their suggestion and will consider their comments carefully as we move forward to improve transportation safety in Alberta,” he said.
“I look forward to hearing from Judy and Bev when they have collected the signatures for their petition to discuss safety on Alberta roads and would be happy to meet with them.”