Monday April 21, 2014





Prohibited drivers inflict heavy toll

Man behind wheel in fatal accident was prohibited from driving
Keith Anderson

Valerie Brook — a wife, mother, friend and nurse — was struck in the crosswalk at Sixth Avenue and Victoria Street on Nov. 21. The driver of the truck that hit Brook was prohibited from driving.

(One of a series of stories on prohibited driving.)

On the dark and drizzly late afternoon of Nov. 21, Valerie Brook stood at the corner of Victoria Street and Sixth Avenue.

The 66-year-old Kamloops woman stepped into the crosswalk.

A 62-year-old man was behind the wheel of a relative's black 2002 Ford F-150, facing north on Sixth. He turned left onto Victoria Street. The truck hit Brook — a wife, mother, friend and nurse. By the time an ambulance got her to Royal Inland Hospital, she was dead.

The truck's driver, Donald Isadore, wasn't supposed to be behind the wheel. On Nov. 2, 19 days before Brook died, a provincial court judge had given him a two-year driving ban and 30-day jail sentence to be served on weekends. Court files make no reference to drugs or alcohol being involved in the case.

But Isadore had driven while suspended before.

Seven weeks later — and just several days after Brook was killed — police got a tip from someone at the casino half a block from where Brooks was struck.

The same man was driving. While prohibited. In the same black truck.

* * *

Police are finishing up their report to submit to Crown counsel for consideration of charges against Isadore. RCMP traffic reconstruction experts normally take six to eight weeks to study all angles of the collision.

Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said the Crown should have a report to determine charges in the case by the end of the month.

Brook's family and friends held a funeral in late November and marked their first Christmas and New Year without her. Her family has declined to be interviewed.

Court records show Isadore was given a two-year driving prohibition on Nov. 2, 2012, as well as a 30-day jail sentence to be served on weekends. In April 2011, he was given a one-year driving prohibition and 14 days in jail to be served on weekends.

The Daily News tried to contact Isadore this week. He has not answered his phone or responded to messages and it appears no one has been to his home in the past few days.

The case has caused heads to shake at how someone can drive when his licence has been taken away so many times.

Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Mike Savage said the investigation will determine if there are other charges tied to Brook's death. As the head of the detachment's traffic section, he gets tired of cases of banned drivers returning to the roads.

"It's one of those ones that's extremely frustrating. Trying to provide a deterrent and protection for the public when you have an individual who basically doesn't care and continues to drive. It's a total disregard for the courts and the motor vehicles," he said.

"It's like any other person who's out there who's driving under the influence or prohibited. It's a hazard to the public. Any calls, we act on them immediately."

* * *

Isadore is not the only prohibited driver to ignore the judge and continue to drive, with serious consequences.

On March 20, 2011, 41-year-old John Darren Thompson got into the driver's seat of his Jeep. He was drunk and wanted drugs and had no licence.

He fishtailed at 94 km/h while trying to pass another car on Parkcrest Avenue, plowing into four kids ages 12 to 14 and knocking some of them four metres.

A drunk driver had robbed Thompson of his own son, killing the Prince George man's boy a year earlier. He told police he had been drinking every day since.

Thompson's drunken, erratic driving put one boy in hospital with a brain injury, facial fractures and chest injuries. The other three suffered mostly cuts and bruises. His blood-alcohol level of 0.18 was more than double the legal limit.

Thompson was sentenced to a year in jail plus three months time served in custody. He had a record that included two drunk-driving charges and five roadside suspensions.

Gabe Barrett was critically hurt, with facial fractures and chest injuries as well as severe head trauma. He is now in high school.

Charlee Marshall was scraped, bruised and sore, as were cousins Theoren and Catherine Lefebvre.

While they share a common traumatic incident, the four have moved on. They attend different schools now and don't hang out as much as they once did.

* * *

Steve Martin, B.C.'s superintendent of motor vehicles, is aware of the Brook case and has already been looking at how to prevent prohibited drivers from getting on the road.

"The circumstances have a very tragic story attached to it. I empathize with the family of the woman . . . killed by this driver. They're being indirectly victimized again by this driver still being out there.

"But short of incarceration, there's very little we can do right now to prevent this from happening," he said.

That could be changing, as Martin's office looks at creating an education and counselling program for banned drivers similar to the one required for impaired drivers.

"This is just very, very tragic. My office, when we hear about these stories, it tugs at everybody's heart. Our hearts go out to the woman killed allegedly by this driver. It's tragic. But we are looking at evolving our program."

myoung@kamloopsnews.ca

@MicheleYoungKDN


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