SURREY — An elderly man struck down by a pickup truck while waiting for a bus on Scott Road has been awarded more than $405,000, and counting, by a B.C. Supreme Court judge for the severe injuries he suffered in the hit-and-run crash.
Harry Sangra, 85, was standing at a bus shelter near the intersection of 75A Avenue and Scott Road in Surrey on Feb. 23, 2014. He had been visiting his younger brother in Surrey and was waiting for a bus to take him back to Vancouver when he was struck down.
The defendants in the case were Scott Lima and his sister Christine Sine, who owned the large Dodge Ram pickup truck Lima had been driving, with her consent, when Lima hit Sangra. Justice Paul Walker found her vicariously liable to Sangra for her brother’s conduct.
The Insurance Corporation of BC determined Lima was in breach of his insurance policy when he struck Sangra.
Walker noted Sangra was an “exceptionally healthy and active” married man before Lima crashed into him. “He suffered devastating injuries, including a brain injury, which nearly cost him his life.”
The court heard that before Lima hit Sangra, he rear-ended a 1992 Volvo 740, also on Scott Road, at a speed of somewhere between 80 and 90 kilometres an hour.
The Volvo, which was travelling much slower, spun 180 degrees and was written off. The court heard Lima took off after hitting the Volvo, not stopping to check on the father and child inside. Rather, he increased his speed and the truck spun in a way that its rear-end crashed into the bus shelter, roughly 100 feet from where Lima hit the Volvo.
Walker noted in his reasons for decision, which he revealed on Monday in Vancouver, that a witness said the pickup truck took off, with tires squealing, and turned left onto 75A Avenue.
The judge said Sangra had been thrown as far as 20 feet into the air before hitting the concrete sidewalk, where he lay unconscious, with his blood flowing into the snow, before being rushed to Royal Columbia Hospital with “severe and life-threatening injuries to nearly all areas of his body.”
Walker noted that before the crash Sangra, despite his years, was still quite athletic, regulary swimming and working out at a gym. He had lived in Port Alberni for a while, where he was vice-president of the society that ran the Sikh temple there.
Rushed to RCH, Sangra underwent multiple urgent surgeries for his many injuries, which included liver damage, brain damage, fractures to his spine, skull, face, pelvis and ribs, a torn rotator cuff, damage to his spleen, and multiple cuts — some of them severe. He was in a coma for 10 days. Walker noted Sangra had suffered “profound bleeding and significant blood loss” as a result of the crash, as well as hearing loss, speech impairment and depression.
The judge agreed with Sangra’s lawyer that Lima’s account of what happened was “littered with enormous credibility issues.”
Lima testified he may have fallen asleep before hitting the Volvo and woke up only after hitting the bus shelter.
Walker noted that Lima admitted sole responsibility for both crashes; that he was driving in a careless manner, and should not have been driving “given the physical and mental condition that he was in at the time.
“Even if Mr. Lima woke up after he hit the bus shelter, it is clear from his testimony that he was only concerned for himself. He did not remain at the scene to determine the extent of the damage he had caused,” Walker determined.
Lima told the court he knew the bus shelter was damaged but didn’t stop because he was “scared for himself.”
Walker awarded Sangra $405,222.49 in damages, plus $2,000 more for each year of the rest of his life.
There will be more compensation as the award for cost of Sangra’s future care has yet to be finalized.