It has been one year since Hideki Mimura last visited Kelowna. This is the second time he has travelled from Japan to give an emotional, but important message to the residents of British Columbia.
Mimura lost his 21-year-old daughter in April 2017 when she was driving back to UBC Okanagan from visiting a friend in Vancouver.
“We are still suffering, we cry many times a day and I think it is going to be like this until the end of our life,” he said. “It is just too hard.”
Melissa Mimura had her first and last traffic collision on Highway 5 just before Merritt.
“We don’t want to waste our painful experience, I want to show myself to the people of British Columbia and I don’t want any of them to be like us that is why I came back,” he said. “That is the only thing we can do … it is too late for us.”
A crowd of people gathered under a white tent at Orchard Park Mall parking lot to remember road crash victims in Kelowna.
Paramedics, firefighters and family members spoke about how collisions have impacted their lives.
Fire and Life Safety Educator at the Kelowna Fire Department Rick Euper said he was a victim of two drunk driver collisions.
“It ruined both vehicles, I was injured and spent a lot of time in rehab,” said Euper. “It is just too many… one crash too many.”
In 2016, Kelowna RCMP investigated 453 collisions 31 of which had serious injuries or resulted in a fatality. In 2017, 344 collisions of which 28 were serious injuries or fatalities.
“As you can see the overall number of collisions have come down in a slight decrease… this is a direct result of intelligent and enforcement techniques by our members,” said Sgt. Mark Booth.
Booth said he’s witnessed horrific carnage as a direct result of motor vehicle collisions and had to break devastating news to family members that their loved ones had been injured or lost their lives.
Mimura said since his daughter’s death he wants the speed reduced on the Coquihalla Highway when weather is bad or have the highway closed. He believes this will reduce the number of accidents.
“This is the only thing I can do for Melissa now. She is gone,” he said through tears.
The national day of remembrance was established by local lawyer Paul Hergott and his wife, Terri, after a friend was killed in a “needless” crash in 2010.
Mimura said he plans to visit all of the places Melissa loved to go to, while he is in town and will be back next year on the same day to remember her.
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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