July 24, 2013 - 4:44 PM
VERNON - A one month driving suspension and $1,500 fine are not sufficient consequences for a woman who struck and killed a Vernon teen, family members said today.
Rose Harmon, 69, hit 17-year-old Mercedes Fraser August 17, 2012, as the teen was bicycling to work. Fraser's helmet was stowed in her backpack, and a coroner's report says she died of blunt force trauma.
Harmon was charged with driving without due care and attention under the Motor Vehicle Act. Crown lawyer Howard Pontious and Harmon's defense lawyer, Claire Abbott, agreed the accident occurred due to "momentary inattention." Harmon was checked for mental conditions that might have contributed to the momentary lapse, but nothing came up.
"The situation—and the consequences—are tragic," Pontious said, noting his joint submission with Abbott entailed no license suspension, but a $1,500 fine. "There's been many similar cases exactly like this where you have momentary inattention and fatal consequences."
Abbott said the consequences for Fraser's family are tragic, but added Harmon will have to live with what happened for the rest of her life as well.
"Mrs. Harman wishes to express her remorse to the court for the tragic consequences," Abbott said.
Before announcing Harmon's sentence, provincial court judge Mayland McKimm opened the floor to Fraser's friends and family in attendance. A close friend of the family, Carole Miller, said the fine was simply not enough.
"Just a $1,500 penalty without any judgement against (her) driver's license is not a good way to remember a little girl that didn't have a chance," Miller said.
Fraser's uncle, Darrel Wihnon said the sentence would send the wrong message.
"I feel this is basically telling people if you fall asleep and hit somone and kill them, you're going to get a fine. For me, that just doesn't sit right," he said.
McKimm felt the fine recommended by Crown and defense wasn't quite enough, and added a one-month driving suspension on top of it.
"I could not imagine as a parent that any penalty would do," McKimm said. "I agree with the family entirely that this case is aggravated by the fact Mrs. Harman caused a death.... It's for that reason I choose to give a greater penalty."
Harmon, a retired figure skating teacher and widow who lives with her 100-year-old mother, sat alone in the front row of the courtroom as the lawyers, family and friends made their statements.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013