An 86-year-old former trucker who ran a red light, hit a teenage pedestrian and left her with brain damage, will lose his licence for six months.
Provincial court Judge Chris Cleaveley said Monday he has "certain reservations" about the short driving ban in a circumstance that left Chloe Demers-Ardiles with serious injuries.
But recent B.C. Supreme Court case law led him to side with a joint submission from Crown and defence for a $1,500 fine and a six-month driving ban.
The law in similar cases punishes the intent, rather than the outcome, of driving.
Merle Michels pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention. Now living in a seniors home, he has continued to drive following the accident.
In a statement of facts, Michels said he believed the traffic light at Fortune Drive and Leigh Road was green as he approached after crossing Overlander Bridge.
In fact, the signal turned red and the crosswalk signal came on during the morning of Sept. 7 last year. Demers-Ardiles took about three steps before being struck by Michels' compact car. A witness said she flew 10 metres before landing on the roadway.
Michels was on a shopping trip to the North Shore from his home in Valleyview. He now lives with his wife at Berwick on the Park and uses his car for short trips, mainly to transport his wife.
In a victim-impact statement read by her father, Demers-Ardiles called it "the day my life fell apart . . . I'm not the Chloe I used to be."
Demers-Ardlines spent months in hospital and suffers from a brain injury. She has had to relearn to eat, walk and do personal hygiene.
"I try to find the power to smile and go on with so-called normal life," the statement said.
Her vision is limited to slightly more than a metre. She also said she has little short-term memory and can no longer remember life milestones, including family vacations and her Grade 12 graduation.
A musician, Demers-Ardiles was working two jobs and saving for tuition for an education in music therapy. She can no longer play guitar.
Her father, Christian, said the family was traumatized by his daughter's injuries. He had to give up his landscape business to take care of his daughter, landing on social assistance as a result.
He told reporters he understands limits set on the sentencing judge, but believes the law should change.
"The judgment doesn't fit the crime — Chloe's life is done… . They should have pulled his licence."
Ardiles, who spoke to Michels in private, hugging him at one point, said he would have handed in his own licence if he were the driver.
Michels was accompanied by his grandson, Kamloops RCMP Sgt. Darren Michels.
Darren Michels declined to answer reporters' questions about whether the family wants the 86-year-old to continue driving.
Bruneau said Michels passed an age-related driving test in 2010 and a recent medical test. His only driving infraction during a 65-year driving history both on and off the job was for speeding in 1990.
A lawsuit against Michels remains outstanding. He had $2 million worth of liability coverage, which defence lawyer Rob Bruneau said may not be enough in the circumstances to cover a judgment.
A longer driving ban can be imposed by the superintendent of motor vehicles, but the office said in an email statement that typically requires a history of driving offences.
Under B.C. law, at age 80 and every two years thereafter, drivers must be assessed by a doctor and submit a driver's medical examination report to the superintendent's office.