Family disappointed by charge laid against Abbotsford driver

First, Melody Jewell lost her 27-year-old daughter, Laurel Wilson, and the granddaughter with whom Laurel was seven months pregnant.

The family of Laurel Wilson and Ralph Jewell

The family of Laurel Wilson and Ralph Jewell

First, Melody Jewell lost her 27-year-old daughter, Laurel Wilson, and the granddaughter with whom Laurel was seven months pregnant.

Six months later, Melody’s husband, Ralph, succumbed to his injuries in hospital, while Melody and their two sons were by his side.

Now, Melody said the family is disheartened by the news they received last Wednesday. They were told the man who allegedly triggered the accident that caused the three deaths was facing a charge that was lighter than police had recommended.

The following day, a charge of driving with undue care and attention, under the Motor Vehicle Act, was formally laid against Shaun James Cochrane, 24, of Abbotsford.

Police had recommended that Crown counsel approve a criminal charge of dangerous driving causing death, but Const. Ian MacDonald said Crown explained the incident did not meet the legal requirements for that offence.

Melody said the news was not unexpected, but was not what the family was hoping to hear.

“We have been told since the accident happened not to expect much, that Canada doesn’t have strict penalties for that sort of thing … so in a way, we weren’t terribly surprised but disappointed,” she said.

She said laws need to be stricter in cases of negligent driving that results in someone’s death.

“People aren’t being held responsible for their actions.”

Melody said she and family members – Laurel was the youngest of nine children – will attend court as the case progresses.

It is alleged that a Ford F-150 truck driven by Cochrane was headed south on Ware Street on March 13, 2010, ran a red light and struck a Honda Prelude that was travelling on South Fraser Way.

Laurel, her dad and her husband, Kevin Wilson, were waiting on a pedestrian island to cross the road when they were struck by the Prelude. Kevin suffered minor injuries. Laurel was rushed to hospital, where doctors were unable to save her life and that of her baby.

Ralph was also taken to hospital, where he remained until his death on Sept. 15 at the age of 66.

A memorial continues to mark the location of the accident, at the corner of South Fraser Way and Ware Street.

On Sunday, family members, who all live in the U.S., visited the site to mark one year since the accident. It would have been Laurel’s 28th birthday.

They decorated the traffic light post with new artificial spring-time flowers and held each other in comfort.

Melody said they are grateful for the strength and encouragement they have received in the last year.

“We are so impressed with the compassion and support of the people in Abbotsford,” she said.