Driver in fatal crash makes tearful apology
A woman who lost control of her car, killing a young couple in Pitt Meadows three years ago took the stand in her defence at a trial Monday, sobbing as she testified she was not trying to beat a red light.
Rebecca ‘Beckie’ Dyer, 19, and her boyfriend, Johnny De Oliveira, 21, died around midnight Oct. 19. 2010, when a Toyota driven by Andelina Kristina Hecimovic skidded sideways over a concrete median, flipped and landed on top of their Suzuki Swift.
Hecimovic, 26, was the only person called by defence to testify at a trial on two counts of dangerous driving causing death in New Westminster Supreme Court.
A nurse, Hecimovic was heading to her boyfriend's house on Meadow Gardens Way, about a kilometre away from the crash site, after a trying day working in the emergency room at Eagle Ridge Hospital.
A suicidal patient had vomited on her.
"I felt very drained. I had just started my menstrual cycle. I wanted a hug," she said.
"I wanted to be comforted."
As she drove east on Lougheed Highway and approached the traffic lights at Harris Road, Hecimovic saw a lane to her right "open up."
She claims she had no idea it was a right-turn-only lane and didn't see the flashing yellow lights as she neared the intersection.
Choking back tears, Hecimovic told the court she was thinking about her shift and suddenly smelled something odd. When she looked at her scrubs she noticed vomit on her shirt and burst into tears.
"I was trying to wipe my tears away and focus on the road when I realized it was a red light," she said.
By then, Hecimovic was in the middle of the intersection.
"Everything happened so fast," she said.
Hecimovic lost control of her red Toyota, careened over a concrete median, flipped, slammed into the Suzuki Swift and ripped its roof off.
She insisted she was not trying to beat the red light by speeding and claims she did not notice cars in front of her slowing down. Hecimovic believed she was driving at the speed limit of 80 km/hr or maybe 90 km/hr, although an expert testified she was travelling at 110 km/hr when she hit the median.
With her face turned away from a gallery filled with family and friends of the deceased couple, Hecimovic made a tearful apology.
"I wish I had more control that night," she said between deep sobs.
"I am very sorry for the loss."
Hecimovic told the court she was unfamiliar with that stretch of Lougheed Hwy. as she usually took another route - Old Dewdney Trunk - to get to her boyfriend's house on Meadows Gardens Way.
Her boyfriend had lived at the address for two years before the crash in 2010. The court also learned that Hecimovic had the Meadows Gardens Way address listed on her novice driver's license.
When Crown prosecutor Wendy Wakabayshi suggested she lived at the address with her boyfriend, Hecimovic vehemently denied that, saying Meadows Gardens Way was only her mailing address.
Hecimovic insisted she didn't live in Pitt Meadows, but shuffled between her parents' home in Port Coquitlam and aunt's house in west Coquitlam.
Although she had travelled the stretch of Lougheed Hwy. "several" times, Hecimovic told Crown she paid little attention to the traffic signs around her, including one that says "right lane must turn right."
"I can't recall ever noticing it," Hecimovic said. "I now know it's there."
Hearing Hecimovic's short apology and defence brought little comfort to the family and friends of the young couple, who died just two blocks away from their apartment.
Outside court, De Oliveira's mother Audrey said hearing Hecimovic's testimony was tough.
"But it's nice to see her sitting up there, see the stress on her face, see her cry and feel some pain, trying to explain what she did," said Audrey De Oliveira.
Dyer's mother Debbie still doesn't see any remorse from Hecimovic.
"She wished it never happened," said Dyer.
"She's been able to live her life for almost three years now. We will never get to hug our kids. We'll never get to see them get married. No parent should have to outlive their child."
Dangerous driving causing death carries a maximum penalty of up to 14 years in prison. Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper is expected to rule on the case tomorrow (18 Sept. 2013).