So let it be written…
Humans are creatures of habit, and so it’s no wonder we see repetition in the news, over the seasons and years.
Stories about bottle drives, toy drives and increased need at the Surrey food bank as Christmas approaches. Stories related to Canada Day, Newton’s big Vaisakhi parade, Remembrance Day, etc. It’s cyclical.
And then, there’s the uncanny. It’s not often we see not one, but two serious hit-and-run traffic crashes involving young drivers and young pedestrians near the same Surrey high school. In fact, never until now, as far as I recall. Both happened on a Thursday, Oct. 26, albeit 17 years apart, at L.A. Matheson Secondary. Both occurred after confrontations involving young people, the first, in the year the driver in the second case was born.
On Oct. 26, 2017 two 19-year-old men were taken to hospital, police said, after a “confrontation” prefaced a hit-and-run in the school’s parking lot, at 9484 122nd Street.
Both are still in hospital. One fellow’s injuries were significant, though not life-threatening. Police obtained surveillance video from the school showing several young men approaching a parked pickup truck, followed by a “confrontation.” Police said the two were struck as the driver took off. A 17-year-old boy later turned himself in to authorities, who are now dealing with the situation.
According to news reports, the driver attends a different Surrey high school and neither victims attended L.A. Matheson. “These things can happen anywhere, I guess,” Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan remarked to the CBC.
Peculiar choice of words, considering that Ray Charles Wilson, 18, was hit and thrown by a Rav4 driven by another teen, also 18, on the corner of 95A Avenue behind L.A. Matheson. Same day, Thursday, same date, Oct. 26. Both, in the afternoon. In that case, Wilson died of massive head injuries later that evening, Oct. 26, 2000.
The driver in that case was sentenced to 18 months house arrest after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, but Wilson’s family considered that a mere slap on the wrist.
Here’s what went down, 17 years ago. There had been a “disturbance” between students of Queen Elizabeth and L.A. Matheson secondaries during a dance the night before, resulting in a fight breaking out between two students at a Dairy Queen the next day. The fight was to resume behind L.A. Matheson, after school. One of the combatants asked the driver of the Rav4 for a lift to school. Not knowing a fight was planned, he agreed and once at L.A. Matheson found himself and his passengers surrounded by angry students, some armed with sticks and rocks.
The judge in that case, Suzanne MacGregor, noted the driver panicked. Searching for an escape route as his passengers yelled “go, go, go,” he drove over some grass, where he hit Wilson, an onlooker not involved in the fight. Wilson left behind him a two-year-old daughter. She’d be 19 today.
The driver dumped the Rav4 a few blocks away and was arrested at school the next day. Originally charged with criminal negligence causing death, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death.
“How can I say how I feel?” the young man told the judge at his sentencing hearing, in 2002. “I have to live with it the rest of my life…every waking hour the scene goes through my mind.”
How tragic, and how so very strange, the passing of these two terrible and unrelated crashes — with the exception they both happened on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 26, at the same school, and, given their circumstances, were likely entirely avoidable.
They say things happen in threes. Let’s sure as hell hope not.
So let it be done.