Global News: Grieving father of UBCO student killed in car crash speaks out against dangerous driving

As seen on Global News by Shelby Thom, 19th November 2017.

A grieving father who lost his daughter in a devastating car accident is speaking out for the first time to encourage drivers to practice safe driving.

Twenty-one-year-old Melissa Mimura was killed in a car accident on the Coquihalla highway near Merritt on April 2, 2017.

Mimura was a fourth-year sociology student in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at the UBCO’s Kelowna campus.

The young woman was returning to Kelowna from Vancouver when slippery conditions caused her to veer off the highway.

She exited her vehicle while waiting for help and was struck by another vehicle who was attempting to pass a trailer.

She died instantly.

“We were so happy, until this happened,” said her father Hideki Mimura on Sunday, clutching a picture of his daughter.

Mimura travelled from Japan to attend the sixth annual “One Crash is Too Many” memorial event in downtown Kelowna.

The event is part of the World Day of Remembrance for road crash victims in Canada.

“If we don’t take some time and reflect on that carnage, on that loss, then we’re really not going to be motivated to do something to change it,” said event organizer and personal injury lawyer Paul Hergott.

Many of the attendees hoped for changes in driving behaviour.

Distracted driving is a factor in more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities in the province, and kills about 78 people each year.

Earlier this month the province announced it is targeting repeat offenders with higher insurance premiums by designating distracted driving as high-risk behavior under ICBC.

“People know it’s against the law, they know they shouldn’t be doing it and they are still doing it. And they should have to pay more in insurance because they are driving up costs and they’re also causing deaths on our road,” B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby said earlier this month.

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But according to Hergott, more needs to be done.

“What the province needs to do is ban all cell phone use while driving. Not just the hand held driving, because what you’re doing to British Columbians is saying, hands-free is perfectly safe, and it’s not, it’s just as dangerous,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mimura encouraged drivers to practice safe driving in an effort to spare other families from the same pain and suffering his family is going through.

“We don’t want any more people dying from a car accidents, especially, you don’t want to lose your children,” he said.

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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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