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It’s now been replaced by a steel cross that “weighs a ton.”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

Being Young; Tackling the ‘second-week slump’

Defeating the slump is difficult.

Along the Fraser: A flawed made-in-B.C.-plan for wild salmon

‘The greatest value B.C. places on wild salmon is cultural.’

Marauders to play in championship Saturday

Pitt Meadows hosting senior boys basketball tournament

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows part of speculation and vacancy tax

Watch the mail, fill out the form, or you’ll be taxed

Another Burrard wins a field lacrosse scholarship

Cooke playing for Newbury Wolves in South Carolina

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

VIDEO: Giants wrap southern swing with 6-4 win in Spokane

The Lower Mainland-based hockey team defeated the Chiefs Friday night.

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Most Read