Vandalized memorial cross replaced

New one on Lougheed Highway a reminder of ‘preventable’ deaths

  • Nov. 27, 2013 9:00 a.m.

On a cold, winter morning, the Dyer and De Oliviera families huddle together at a spot where they’ve stood many times.

Cars and trucks whizz past the hydro pole on Lougheed Highway near Harris Road while they nail a bright white cross to it.

“Hopefully this cross will be a reminder to say that two people lost their lives here,” said Debbie Dyer, wrapped in a purple scarf, her daughter’s favourite colour.

“And it was all preventable.”

Rebecca Dyer, 19, and her boyfriend, Johnny De Oliveira Jr., 21, were killed around midnight Oct. 19. 2010, when a Toyota driven by Andelina Hecimovic skidded sideways over a concrete median, flipped over and landed on top of their Suzuki Swift.

The couple, returning home from a Justin Beiber concert, died instantly.

Hecimovic, now 26, was charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing death, but was acquitted in September, following a week-long trial.

Although Hecimovic was speeding and ran a red light while driving in a right-turn-only lane, the judge found her actions were “simple carelessness,” not criminal.

The verdict is being appealed.

A few days after the acquittal, a wooden cross that marked the spot where the young couple died was snapped in half.

Korina De Oliviera, Johnny’s step-mother, found the pieces tossed behind a concrete barrier.

It’s now been replaced by a steel cross that “weighs a ton.” It was fabricated by Apollo Sheet Metal, a company owned by Tony Paris. McMath Photography donated two new photographs of Beckie and Johnny that hang on it.

“This one can’t be broken,” Korina De Oliviera said as Beckie’s aunt Jacqueline and uncle John Goolevitch tacked more photos of the couple to the hydro pole.

Both families have been overwhelmed by the support they continue to receive from strangers.

“It really restores your faith in humanity,” De Oliviera added.

Deon van der Heever,  who works at Marv Jones Honda, was staying at the Ramada Inn when the wooden cross was vandalized and offered to pay to replace it. Since the cross has been replaced, he donated the money to the group Families for Justice, which is lobbying to add vehicular homicide to the criminal code.

“The community has been so supportive that it’s unbelievable,” said Dyer.

“It’s so heart-warming and it makes you believe that there are good people out there.”

Just Posted

UPDATE/VIDEO: Heavy police presence after body found in Maple Ridge

Body was discovered beneath the Golden Ears Bridge

On Cooking: Yes, I eat meat

I recognize the fact that we as people are not all the same.

VIDEO: Firefighters on scene at Mission house blaze

Flames can be seen rising from roof of home on Lightbody Crescent

Sports announced for Maple Ridge 2020 BC Summer Games

18 events will attract almost 3000 young athletes

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants couldn’t find the net: coach

Even with a six-on-three advantage, the Langley-based hockey team couldn’t earn points Sunday.

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

Mountie left with ‘significant’ injuries after driver attempts to flee traffic stop

Richmond RCMP are looking for a dark coloured Mercedes Benz

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Most Read