CBC News: Family of killed cyclist pleads for driver to come forward

As seen on CBC News, 5th July 2013.

‘We always thought he was indestructible,’ sister says.

The family of the 72-year-old cyclist killed last week in a hit-and-run incident in Burnaby is pleading for the driver to come forward.

“I understand the need to just get away from things, but it’s been a few days now and you must be feeling awful with the guilt. So, please. It’s time to say ‘enough’ and come forward.” — Janet Atkinson-Grosjean

Edward Simpkins was hit by a vehicle on 13th Avenue near Wright Street at around 8:30 p.m. PT on June 30. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Friday, Janet Atkinson-Grosjean spoke tearfully about Simpkins, her brother.

“Ed, we always thought he was indestructible,” she said.

“You heard he would have been 73 at the end of this month, but he was fitter than most people half his age.

“We certainly weren’t ready to lose him in any time, especially in this way. He was a musician, he was a poet, he was an artist, and he was a life-long cyclist. He was also a dad, a granddad, my brother and friend to so many people.”

Atkinson-Grosjean said she understands the fear, anxiety and guilt the driver must be experiencing, but asked that he or she come forward to help the family grieve.

“We do understand that the driver must have panicked. Speaking for myself, I’m past the anger,” she said.

“I understand the need to just get away from things, but it’s been a few days now and you must be feeling awful with the guilt. So, please, it’s time to say, ‘Enough’ and come forward. We need you to tell us what happened so we can let Ed go in a dignified manner. Please help us to say goodbye to my brother.”

The victim’s daughter, Chelsea Simpkins, also spoke on Friday, saying the family was devastated by the loss.

Police have released video that shows the suspect vehicle, a dark blue or black late model two-door coupe that enters the frame from left to right. Later, a second vehicle, a lighter-coloured four-door hatchback (possibly grey or brown), is seen approaching, but then reverses away from the accident scene.

RCMP say they want to speak with both drivers.

“Our investigation also reveals that there was at least one other vehicle that approached the collision scene only a few seconds after the accident had occurred, but the driver left before the police arrived. We believe this driver is a critically important witness,” Staff Sgt. Major John Buis said in a statement.

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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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