KAMLOOPS - The father of 16-year-old Jennifer Gatey believes his family may begin to get some closure, after charges were laid in the hit and run death.
Kamloops RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller held a news conference today, March 6, where he said charges have been laid in connection to Gatey's hit and run death.
Jason Charles Gourlay, 40, has been charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident. He also faces a drug charge, which Mueller said came about during the execution of a search warrant on Gourlay's home. He remains in police custody and is due in court tomorrow.
Gatey's father, Cameron Gatey, says although his family is still devastated by her death, the charges offer a small amount of relief.
"Perhaps we are at the beginning of the end," Cameron said. "We can bring some closure to this now that a suspect is in custody."
Supt. Mueller's announcement comes four months after Kamloops RCMP began investigating a suspect vehicle from a home in the Dufferin area three days after Gatey's death.
Cameron says he has never heard of or met Gourlay. Police released little information on the forensic investigation into the Jeep until today.
"This case was considered a priority investigation from the day it was reported," Mueller said. "The RCMP Serious Crimes Unit in Kamloops... led the investigation and from the onset relied heavily on the public's assistance."
Mueller said Gourlay's name arose early in the investigation thanks to a tip from the public. Although Gourlay's Jeep was taken into custody, Mueller said officers explored all avenues and suspects.
Gourlay was arrested on Friday, March 3, near his home in Dufferin. Mueller said factors of speed and impairment are still being looked into while the investigation continues to unfold.
He said significant physical evidence was found from the Jeep and after contemplating charge recommendations, Crown approved the driving charge.
"This was a very difficult and lengthy investigation," Mueller said.
Gourlay has not made any admissions, but Cameron says the right thing to do is be honest.
"In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t… make us feel any better," he says. "We want to know what happened that night. There is only two people that can tell us what happened and only one of them is still alive."
Gatey was on her way to the gym in the early evening hours of Nov. 4, 2016, when she was struck and killed by a vehicle close to bus stop at Pacific Way and Abbeyglen Way near her Aberdeen home a day before her 17th birthday.
Gourlay has two previous driving offences for speeding, including an excessive speeding conviction in 2015. On Feb. 21, 2017 he was charged with theft under $5,000 from Sept. 22, 2016.
Cameron says he wants to thank both the RCMP and the public for their outpouring of support over the past four months.
"More than anything, thank you. We’ve been patient with (the RCMP) and I think it's necessary to be patient in these circumstances," he says. "The community has been very supportive, so very kind to us."
Cameron says a scholarship has been set up in Gatey's name through TRU, which will be handed out for the first time this fall to a South Kamloops Secondary student wanting to attend TRU.
He says there are also plans for memorial benches in Gatey's honour.
"She was a wonderful young person that was living her life to the fullest," he says. "I just imagined her having a wonderful life because she was so well-rounded."
— This story was updated at 12:45 p.m., Monday, March 6, 2017 to include new information from Kamloops RCMP and Cameron Gatey.
— This story was updated at 1:10 p.m., Monday, March 6, 2017 to add a photo of Jason Charles Gourlay.
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