Driver fined but keeps licence after Richmond pedestrian dies
VANCOUVER -- The family of a great-grandmother who died after a driver clipped her as she crossed the street at Richmond Centre is pleading for changes to the justice system after the driver kept her licence and walked away with nothing more than a fine.
Milagros Aguasin had been walking home from socializing with friends at the mall, when a driver leaving the mall clipped her. The family says the 81-year-old was still in the crosswalk on the sunny evening in July of 2018 and Mounties at the time said they believed she was in the crosswalk, but the driver's lawyer argued that couldn't be proven.
The driver, Regina Lurye, stayed at the scene and called 911 to help the injured woman, ultimately pleading guilty to “driving without due care and attention,” a section of the Motor Vehicle Act. A judge sentenced her to pay a $1,500 fine on Thursday, waiving a one-year driving prohibition that had been a possibility. She will not have a criminal record, since the charge was under the MVA.
"Just because [Lurye] didn't see her, we lost someone we love very much,” said Aguasin’s grandson, Andre Endique. “I'm not saying send her to jail – she has a family of her own – it was just that she walked away with a $1,500 fine and that was it."
Aguasin was hospitalized with broken hips and bruising all over the left side of her body, a swollen eye and other injuries that seemed survivable. But doctors later discovered she had bleeding in the brain, and she died the next day in hospital.
Her family read victim impact statements to the judge on Thursday, but they say Judge John Milne decided that since the driver had an elderly mother to take care of, she shouldn’t lose her licence.
“It’s always a tragedy when something like this happens, but that being said, judges consider a wide variety of factors when they're handing down sentences,” explained criminal lawyer Sarah Leamon.
She says mitigating factors like whether or not a driver had a history of offences, if they plead guilty and apologized – all can play into a judgment that can range from fines to licence suspensions to jail time, even under the Motor Vehicle Act. But fundamentally, it boils down to what the driver did, not the result.
“Just because there is a death or a serious injury, that doesn't necessarily mean that the driver engaged in a course of conduct that would be criminal,” said Leamon. ”We can't charge people with a criminal offence based on the unfortunate outcome of an incident.“
Aguasin was an active senior, dancing every Sunday and practicing tai-chi with her friends regularly. She was a mother of seven, grandmother to 18, and great-grandmother to 14, most of whom live in Metro Vancouver and want to see changes to the legal system that would see the re-evaluation of sentencing standards.
"There needs to be a deterrent, something needs to change,” said her daughter, Beth Ailez.
“Obviously this judge did not want to be the person to make a change because he just followed in line with all the previous."