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Amir’s Story

Told by his mother, Marzieh

My 26-year-old son, Amir Sedghi, was killed in a plane crash on May 4th, 2019, near Smithers, British Columbia.

Amir worked as a data analyst and a payload specialist for Precision Vectors, a company that provides detailed aerial imagery. On the day of the accident, he was deployed on a contract for BC Wildlife Service. The flight operation was to conduct an infrared scan of forests in northern BC to spot some of the ongoing underground wildfires. This technology was a first of its kind.

He was aboard a Cessna 182E operated by Lake District Air Services Ltd. that took off from Burns Lake along with 3 others, including his boss and CEO of the company, Lorne Borgal. According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada who conducted an investigation, 3 hours into the flight, the pilot sent out a mayday call before communication was lost. The plane wreckage was found 50 miles north of Smithers. Amir, Lorne, and their pilot were all killed when their plane crashed on that tragic day.

The particular model of plane had an aftermarket engine, and the TSB determined that based on “the temperature and humidity in the area where the flight took place, were conducive to serious carburetor icing”, which likely caused engine problems. The plane wreckage was recovered with the carburetor heating system in the cold/off position. They stated that “for aircraft equipped with carburetors, if they are also not equipped with a carburetor temperature indication system, there is an increased risk that pilots will not be aware that they are in conditions in which carburetor ice accumulation is possible and consequently will not take the appropriate remedial actions in time”.

The TSB further identified that “following the initial engine problems, the pilot indicated an intention to land at Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge airstrip; however, the aircraft tracked away from the airstrip, and the pilot reported that he would land west of it, when in fact the aircraft crashed east of it. The airstrip was not in the aircraft’s GPS database, and, as a result, it is likely that the pilot was unable to locate it in sufficient time to conduct a safe landing before the engine failed”.

As per the TSB report, there were multiple factors identified that could have prevented this accident and terrible tragedy from happening. Some of these factors could have included sufficient feedback systems in place to prevent carburetor icing and subsequent engine failure, as well as perhaps ensuring that all airstrips are included in aircraft GPS databases. When seconds counted, the critical data that the pilot needed to make the correct decisions were not immediately available to him – to perhaps have prevented the engine failure, or to have at least made a safe emergency landing at the nearby airstrip.

As a Mother, I was always worried about the nature of Amir’s job, working in remote locations of British Columbia, and I just wanted him to be safe. His death was every mother’s worst nightmare. We feel the loss of Amir every day. He was a young man of many talents; he was a musician, businessman, spoke 5 languages, and was motivated to protect nature and wildlife. This passion is what led him to work for Precision Vectors three years ago in serving the province, and couldn’t be persuaded otherwise by my worries.

Only after his death were we even further shocked to learn that my son had no “value” under British Columbia’s wrongful death laws. We reached out to lawyers who informed us that WorkSafeBC would not be compensating our family for our heartbreaking loss because according to BC’s Family Compensation Act, Amir did not meet the discriminatory criteria to qualify as having “worth” under the law.

In BC, the deceased must have an income and dependents in order for their family to have access to justice and adequate compensation. Amir had to have had a spouse and/or a child in order for us to have a legal claim against those at fault. They also informed us of another very troubling distinction under the Workers Compensation Act that prevents a family from suing wrongdoers if their deceased loved one was killed while at work. How unbelievably ridiculous could this law be?!

WorkSafeBC is willing to compensate our family for only a partial amount of the burial cost but only in exchange for signing away our rights to sue the wrongdoer. This situation is unacceptable to us. We are incredibly disappointed by what we have learned about the accountability and compensation process in BC.

Perhaps if it wasn’t so cheap to kill, there might actually be more measures in place to prevent accidents and tragedies like what happened to Amir from happening in the first place?

We immigrated to British Columbia 20 years ago to seek a higher standard of life and a more fair justice system. We are a family, and as a family, we value each others’ lives and stand up for one another when one of us gets hurt. We cannot believe that the province still relies on wrongful death legislation that has had no meaningful or significant updates to provide a foundation of equal value for the loss of life since 1846.

Apparently, all the other provinces in Canada, including the Yukon, have already modernized these laws, and the BC government continues to fail the public in not doing so.

As a family we are trying to remain supportive of each other and be proactive. We started a foundation in the name of Amir called the Amir Sedghi Foundation. We strive to keep Amir’s beautiful legacy alive by assisting those who share the same interests and values: environment, nature, music, languages, and personal growth. Amir was a talented musician, loved and cared for all humans regardless of their beliefs, race, age and background, and was a huge supporter of animal rights and environmental values.

Even though Amir’s life was not valued or respected under BC law, we will continue to advocate with other affected families and the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society to ensure that the government of British Columbia changes this wrongful, outdated law so hopefully one day no other family in our province will have to experience its grave consequences, as we have.

Media Coverage

CBC – ‘He just absolutely loved everybody’: 2 victims of small plane crash near Smithers, B.C., identified

North Shore News – Family mourns North Van man killed in plane crash

CTV News – Plane crash victims were doing survey work for BC Wildfire Service

Global News – Fatal northern B.C. plane crash happened 3 hours into mapping flight, says TSB

iHeart Radio – Former CEO of Hudson Bay Mountain Resort One of Three Victims of Smithers Landing Plane Crash

Georgia Straight – Three B.C. Wildfire Service contractors dead after plane crash near Smithers

Haida Gwaii Observer – Fatal crash occurred three hours into aerial mapping flight

Wildfire Today – Plane crash kills three while mapping fires in B.C.

CFTK TV – Carburetor ice blamed for 2019 fatal plane crash north of Smithers



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 Attorney General of British Columbia, Murray Rankin, is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Rankin receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, David Eby (the former Attorney General who is also very familiar with this issue).

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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Petition Your MLA Now

Unlike other Canadian provinces, BC has not made any significant amendments to its wrongful death legislation—ever. The current BC Family Compensation Act only values the lives of income-earners. This neglect must stop. Petitioning your local MLA, the Attorney General, and Premier with our automated tool can make a lasting difference to the lives of British Columbians for generations to come.

Dear Local MLA, Attorney General Murray Rankin, Premier David Eby, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General Mike Farnworth,

I am writing to you about the preventable death of 26-year-old Amir Sedghi and British Columbia’s woefully outdated wrongful death laws; which are still based on colonial era legislation from 1846.

BC’s current Family Compensation Act only takes into account the direct financial losses resulting from the wrongful death of a loved one. As a result, only the families of deceased breadwinners see the inside of a courtroom in cases of wrongful death.

Children, seniors, people with disabilities, or anyone who does not meet the discriminatory criteria of having both an income and dependents are classes of people whose lives are not valued or respected when they are killed in BC.

This is a human rights issue.

Investigations into the wrongful death of these classes of citizens most often do not occur because there is no ‘loss of earnings’ to cover civil trial costs.

Accordingly, families have been denied the ability to right the wrong and ensure that the same preventable actions which resulted in the wrongful death would not happen to another.

Unlike other provinces in Canada, which in most cases have modernized long ago, many of your constituents are considered “worthless” under the discriminatory law in British Columbia.

Amir Sedghi, sadly, is one of these cases where no accountability can be brought against wrongdoers who failed in their duty of providing safe aerial transport. His story can be read here – https://intheirname.ca/our-stories/amir/

The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society is comprised of families who have been fighting for over two decades to see our laws modernized. They have drafted legislation that can solve this problem now.

These families, based on each individual personal experience of loss, have demanded that the legislation include the following tenets:

#1 The value of human life must not be based merely on whether the wrongfully killed was a breadwinner with dependants. There must be a legal recognition for the value of each life and the loss of love, guidance, care, companionship, and affection wrongfully taken from surviving family members.

#2 The value of human life must not be arbitrarily capped by legislation. Damages for the loss of life must be assessed individually by constitutionally independent superior courts, in recognition of the distinct relationship that existed between each of the surviving family members and the wrongfully killed loved one.

#3 All forms of non-pecuniary damages, including aggravated and punitive damages must be available under the legislation to be awarded in appropriate cases. Financial penalty assessed by a civil court when a wrongdoer maliciously, or recklessly kills another person is essential when criminal prosecution is not pursued or fails. General deterrence of future wrongdoing is an important objective.

#4 If an individual is not initially killed by a wrongful act, but later dies before the conclusion of litigation, this should not be a windfall for the wrongdoer. There should not be a perverse incentive for the wrongdoer to delay, or prolong litigation. Damages relating to conscious pain, suffering, and disability during the period between the wrong and the decedent’s death, including damages for loss of expectation of life, pain and suffering, physical disfigurement, or loss of amenities must remain available under the legislation.

#5 Families deserve the right to have their day in court with the ability to obtain professional legal representation on a contingency basis. No other piece of legislation in the province should bar the pursuit of an at-fault wrongful death claim against a negligent party. The contingency fee system does not discriminate socioeconomically, and it ensures the family can obtain the best representation necessary to obtain truth, justice, and accountability against a wrongdoer, no matter how big and powerful that wrongdoer might be. Families also deserve the right to have the case decided by a jury of their peers. This fundamental aspect of our democracy must be preserved.

What will you do to create a fair and adequate wrongful death law in BC?

Yours Truly,

Your Full Name
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cc: Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon, Liberal Critic for Attorney General Mike de Jong, Liberal Critic for Public Safety & Solicitor General Mike Morris, BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau

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