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Abbotsford driver pleads guilty in relation to pedestrian death

Kenneth Howarth pleaded guilty in Abbotsford provincial court in connection to the death of 80-year-old pedestrian Bachan Gill. - John Van Putten
Kenneth Howarth pleaded guilty in Abbotsford provincial court in connection to the death of 80-year-old pedestrian Bachan Gill.
— image credit: John Van Putten

The man charged in connection to the death of 80-year-old pedestrian Bachan Gill on Sept. 30 pleaded guilty today (Monday) in Abbotsford provincial court.

Kenneth Howarth, 27, appeared briefly to enter a plea of guilty of failing to stop at the scene of an accident with a person.

A pre-sentence report is scheduled to be presented in court on June 3. Sentencing could take place that day or be set for a later date. Howarth faces a maximum prison term of five years.

Gill’s son, Balbir, speaking outside of court, said his family was disappointed when they were told that Howarth had been charged with only one offence, but were relieved that he pleaded guilty.

“At least he’s saying, ‘Yeah, I have done it.’”

Balbir said his family has been devastated by his father’s death, particularly his mom, Surjit, who suffered a stroke on Jan. 8 and remains in extended care.

The couple had been married for more than 60 years at the time of Gill’s death and had three sons and a daughter.

Balbir, his wife and their two children – a teen boy and girl – have shared a home with his parents since 2006. His kids are grieving the loss of their grandfather, Balbir said.

His sister has also been severely impacted. She lost her 37-year-old husband to a heart condition about eight years ago, and her parents were a strong support system.

Balbir said the laws around vehicle-related deaths are “too lenient” in Canada.

“I guess we need to do something about the tightening of those laws,” he said.

Gill was hit by a vehicle on Sept. 30 while crossing at a marked crosswalk at Clearbrook Road and Newcastle Drive at about 6:15 p.m. The accident was reported by someone who came across Gill lying on the road, but the driver was gone.

When emergency crews arrived, they found Gill suffering from serious injuries. He died at the scene.

Police then issued a description of a 1990 Ford pickup that had been seen driving erratically along Clearbrook Road just moments after Gill had been struck.

Howarth turned himself in to police the following day.

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