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Edward’s Story

Told by his daughter, Chelsey

“My dad, Edward Simpkins, was one of a kind. He had the heart of a poet, and the beautiful music he created echoes throughout my memories of him. He was a man who lived life simply, and on his own terms. He loved riding his bike, entertaining us with his guitar, and exploring the great outdoors.

A lifelong athlete, my dad took me on many long hikes and bike rides. He pushed me to my limits, often showing me parts of myself that I never would have discovered alone. My dad taught me that if you simply put one foot after the other, amazing things can be accomplished.

My dad was also a natural rebel. He loved to question norms, play devil’s advocate, and challenge the status quo. At times, these traits could be infuriating, and often led to heated arguments. Yet, being challenged this way forced me to be confident in who I am and what I believe in. My dad taught me how to argue and stand up for what I believe is right, and so I intend to use this story to stand up for his rights.

At 10:27pm on June 30, 2013, my father was killed in a hit-and-run. Though we didn’t know it at the time, my father had gone out for his last bicycle ride. My father died 29 days before his 73rd birthday, alone on the side of the street.

According to eyewitness accounts and camera evidence at the scene, the woman who hit and killed my father got out of the car, looked at my dad’s body, and drove away, leaving him to die on the side of the road. She turned herself in a week later, after an extensive media campaign mounted by my family.

The police never pressed charges in her case. This woman left my father to die on the side of the road and took any potential damaging evidence with her. She wasn’t charged with vehicular manslaughter or leaving the scene of an accident. There was no restorative justice, and it is my understanding that she did not lose her license or even get a ticket. This woman received no criminal charges, no fine, and no notation in her driving record after killing my father. Furthermore, the police never formally debriefed my family on their charge assessment. When the hit-and-run driver turned herself in, my family was merely sent a coded accident report in the mail and told that the woman who hit and killed my father was “from a good family.”

Seven years later, after I petitioned my MLA for answers, Prosecution Services informed me that charges were not pressed because this woman had hired a psychiatrist who argued that the reason she had fled the scene was because she was traumatized rather than because she was trying to avoid criminal charges. I couldn’t fathom how this argument could possibly be valid. Anyone who commits a fatal hit and run would be traumatized. How can the courts ever prosecute fatal hit and runs if this argument is accepted?

It is my understanding that hit and runs are illegal for a reason. The woman who hit my father, left him to die, and took any potential evidence of damage with her did something extremely wrong. Yet, it has been made apparent that the RCMP are unwilling to uphold the law in my father’s case and that his life is not worth defending under BC’s criminal justice system.

To add insult, not to injury, but to death, my family came to learn that we had no civil recourse because of BC’s Family Compensation Act. According to these antiquated and discriminatory laws, my father’s life was worthless because he was 72-years-old and retired. These laws do not value the lives of the elderly, children, or the disabled.

My father’s life was not worth defending within the Criminal Justice System, and his life was also deemed worthless in a civil case. Justice failed my father, and my family – along with so many other families in BC – this needs to change!”

Media Coverage

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

CTV News – ‘Please help us to say goodbye,’ hit-and-run victim’s family pleads

CBC News – Driver in Burnaby hit-and-run turns herself in



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 72-year-old Edward Simpkins 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.

Edward Simpkins, sadly, is one of these cases where no accountability can be brought against the wrongdoer who fled the scene after striking him with her car, while he was riding his bike, allowing him to die alone on the side of the road. His story can be read here – https://intheirname.ca/our-stories/edward/

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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