City: Paris Province: Paris
I would like to make a further response to Ben. It is great that you have wanted to support your friend. However we, Ellie's family, have just been advised that James Pate HAS NOT accepted any responsibility in her death. In fact he decided he had done nothing wrong and contested the fine. Apparently the Prosecutor decided it was OK to speed and kill someone and as a result James has got away without even a fine! We feel completely betrayed by the system of law in British Columbia. I had been willing to give James the benefit of the doubt but he has now confirmed what I thought of him all along. Shame on you James. Penny Reinecke.
I would like to respond to Ben. I wrote a VERY long letter to the editor of this paper after we went to Whistler in January 2012 for the first anniversary of Ellie's death. However the editor declined to print it in full. In it, I FULLY explained the reason why - in my opinion- Ellie would have been walking along the road that night. The area was unfamiliar to her. Further, in my opinion - and I went to the area where Ellie was killed twice in the dark early hours of the morning - the path is VERY frightening in the dark - I personally felt afraid walking along there as it is lonely and way below the road level. Also at the time of her death there had been a great deal of snow and when the police took us to see the area they had to point out the entry to the path as we could not see it - even in the day light - as the snow was piled high. I imagine Ellie could not have found the entrance that night - and may not have even known the path existed as it is clear she was lost that night. Further, on the night of her death, the snow was banked up high against the rail at the side of the road - the WAS NO side of road to walk on. And Jamie admitted to us in the meeting, that HE WAS FULLY AWARE that people often walked on the road as an alternative to the lonely path below the road. With this knowledge he should have been driving more slowly and carefully on that section of the road - NOT speeding 9 kms above the limit, which he seems to think is OK (and why wouldn't he - as the law let him get away with it didn't it?
Our main complaint however - are the laws in British Columbia which allow for a person to be speeding and kill someone, yet to take no responsibility for their actions. Speeding is breaking the law. Speeding and killing someone should be punishable by more than simply a fine and the loss of a couple of points. How does this discourage others (particularly young people) from speeding. And if you cannot be drug and alcohol tested at an accident - particularly one which results in a death - how does this discourage others from doing just that? (I reiterate - i am not accusing Jamie of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol). These laws are more strict in all other countries I have ever visited and the punishment is far greater, particularly if a death is involved.
No matter who was in the wrong that night, or how many excuses are made about the road and lighting and alternative routes one can walk along - the is ABSOLUTELY no doubt in my mind that if Jamie had not been speeding, and had been driving more carefully as the weather should have dictated that night - he may have seen Ellie on the road that night and had time to stop. We were made aware by the police investigation that in fact Jamie was still over the speed limit that night when he hit and killed Ellie. Our precious Ellie.
I hope this comment explains our position clearly. Many questions in our mind about the circumstances of the accident, were never answered satisfactorily. I too, have never placed the blame solely on Jamie but the punishment (for want of a better word) should be more suitable to the circumstances - in order to make sure others are deterred from breaking the law.
I thank Jamie and Ben for not making any comments against Ellie and for acknowledging our ongoing pain.
Regards Penny Reinecke
What Jamie has said is in most part correct. And I am not saying otherwise. I did email Jamie after we left in 2012 but I did not get a response. What I wanted was for him to actually admit responsibility. At our meeting he consistently said that he 'had done nothing wrong'. This is where I disagree. Of course we know he never meant the terrible accident to happen. But he was speeding (9 kms over the limit according to what we were told). If he hadnt have been speeding he may have seen Ellie on the road and had more time to stop. It was also a terrible weather night and he was supposed to be a responsible taxi driver - so should have been taking a great deal more care on the road - not less care. I believe my husband Robert may have said those things in complete pain and despair and of course he didnt mean it! I certainly never wished Jamie to go to jail, but I felt very strongly after our meeting that he did not wish to take responsibility for his actions. I also believe Ellie had to take responsibility, and lets face it - the consequences of her actions that night were much greater to her than to Jamie. However my biggest complaint was against the laws in Canada. Firstly because Jamie wasn't drug or alcohol tested (not that I am saying he was under any of those influences) which would have been the first thing that happened anywhere else in the world I think! However Ellie - who died and had no say in the matter - was tested as part of the autopsy. And secondly because although being charged with speeding it was treated as a minor offence. This to us, Ellie's family, makes a mockery of her death - and sends a message to all young people that it is OK to speed and kill someone. You will get no more than a slap on the wrist.
Jamie made a mistake and lost a couple of points and received a small fine. Ellie made a mistake (a lesser mistake given that I dont think she was actually breaking the law?) and lost her life. Our family has lost her forever and the pain and missing her will never, ever leave us. We have lost a daughter, a sister, a friend, a future son-in-law, future grandchildren. So much loss - simply because a driver thinks it is ok to speed.
This is what I wanted to point out in my letter to the editor - in fact I wrote a very long letter to this paper in 2011 - unfortunately the editor did not wish to print it in full
I do however thank Jamie for his comments. And to tell him I do not think he is a bad person. But just a young person who made a mistake. But I also want him - and others - to know that speeding is not OK - speeding and driving under the influence can have terrible consequences that can never be undone. And the law in Canada needs to acknowledge this and make sure that drivers who break the law have to suffer the consequences. At the very least Jamie should have lost his license for a period long enough to realise he WAS responsible and speeding is NOT OK.
Thank you regards Penny Reinecke
My name is Penny Reinecke and I am Ellie's mum. I have lost my beautiful, precious daughter. My heart aches constantly still. The above article is a highly watered down statement of the truth and what I actually wrote in a very long letter to this newspaper. They were fearful of being sued for libel. Fair enough I guess but not good reporting. My daughter may have had too much to drink that night and we freely admit she went out to fun. However Ellie did not break any law. The taxi driver DID break the law by speeding. Not only speeding, but in control of a vehicle licensed to carry passengers and speeding on a night when he should have reduced his speed to cope with the weather conditions. If the driver had not been speeding he may have avoided killing Ellie and we would still have our daughter with us today. He will forever believe it is Ok to speed and kill someone because he wasn't punished for it. He has never accepted any responsibility for causing Ellie's death. By allowing the driver to get away with it, the prosecutor has virtually said it is OK to break the law. There were numerous other complaints that I made in my letter. Unfortunately this paper chose not to print it. Yes it was long and yes I guess it was accusatory. But it was the truth. But nobody really wants the truth do they? - just to hear what they want to hear. ,
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