Global News: Driver behind fatal 2017 Coquihalla crash that killed UBCO student receives $1,500 fine

As seen on Global News by Jill Bennet & Jon Azpiri, 1st May 2019.

A man who crashed into a car on the Coquihalla Highway, causing the death of a 21-year-old university student, has been sentenced.

George Holowko has been given a $1,500 fine after pleading guilty to driving without due care and attention.

In April 2017 he was driving his son and his girlfriend to a hockey game in Kamloops.

Amid wintry conditions, Holowko crashed into a car that had veered off the road onto the median. The driver of that car, Melissa Mimura, a Japanese student at UBC’s Okanagan campus, was standing in front of her vehicle and killed by the impact.

The judge who sentenced Holowko to the fine called it a case of simple negligence — a mistake that has caused much suffering.

Speaking from Japan, Mimura’s father says the fine isn’t enough and in his country, Holowko would have faced jail time.

“I cannot understand why [the penalty] was so small,” Hideki Mimura said.

“Our laws in Japan and Canada are so different and since [there is] nothing else we can do, we just have to suffer. It’s just an unfortunate fact.”

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About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of ‘The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – a BC registered non-profit organization comprised of volunteer families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.

As a result of the province’s antiquated law, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the negligent or intentional acts of another.

BC is presently the last of all the provinces, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.

When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in terms of incentivizing innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.

Here’s How You Can Get Involved…

The Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, is responsible for the modernization of BC’s wrongful death laws. Our Society provided David Eby with the drafted ‘Wrongful Death Accountability Act’ when he was acting as the Attorney General for British Columbia for 6 years between 2017-2022. The new Attorney General, Niki Sharma, also shares responsibility as she is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the current guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Sharma receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, David Eby, who is ultimately responsible for modernization.

Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.

The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the public and the media will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.

How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?

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