As seen on Global News by Doris Maria Bregolisse, 21st November 2018
Melissa Mimura died on the Coquihalla Highway near Merritt in April 2017, leaving her family in Japan in mourning.
The 21-year-old UBC Okanagan student was driving back from Vancouver when an out-of-control vehicle struck and killed her as she waited with her broken down car beside the road.
Her father was back in Kelowna on Wednesday to join road safety advocates for the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.
“In Japan we changed our traffic law and made then more strict and the number of deaths by road crash became half,” Hideki Mimura said.
“There is nothing we can do for our daughter but we don’t want to waste her painful experience,” he said. “We want to change [laws]. It shouldn’t happen to any other people.”
The seventh annual remembrance event is organized by a road safety advocate who also believes B.C. laws fall short of protecting lives.
“There are solid steps that could be taken to send the correct message to road users and to create accountability so we can start reducing these crashes,” Paul Hergott said.
Hergott cited ICBC statistics that show crash numbers rose instead of dropping after the B.C. government banned hand-held device use in 2010.
There were 350,000 vehicle crashes reported across B.C. in 2017, up from 260,000 in 2013, according to ICBC.
There were 85,000 people injured in motor-vehicle-related crashes across the province in 2013, ICBC reported.
That number rose to 94,000 in 2017.
Deaths on B.C. roads peaked at 277 in 2015 and have since fallen to 255 in 2017.
Mimura hopes his appeal can save at least one life.
“All the people in British Columbia should be more careful to prevent any more tragedy,” he said.
The remembrance ceremony was also attended by first responders who related their own experiences dealing with the carnage on local roads.
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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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