SURREY — March 14 was supposed to be the start of a new life for Surrey’s Josefa and Vincent Belcourt.
Instead, it was the worst day of Vincent’s life.
On that day, the couple was planning to move from a Surrey trailer park to a home in Vancouver. But Josefa and Vincent would say what was unknowingly their last “I love you” to one another.
Fifty-seven-year-old Josefa, known to most as Josie, was killed in an early morning hit-and-run on King George Boulevard at roughly 83rd Avenue.
Vincent stood in front of media at Surrey RCMP’s main detachment on Tuesday, urging the public for help and asking the person responsible to do the right thing.
Holding up a photo of Josie (pictured), Vincent said she was the “light of my life.”
“When she walked into a room she could make everybody smile,” he said. “And now people are finding out that she’s dying and they’re dropping to their knees because she put such an impact in their lives…. She did not discriminate against anybody. She always had a smile and a kind work for people.”
Josie and Vincent were married for 26 years. The two met at a building where he worked during a dance. She needed a ride. Six months later they were married.
They lived happily in Surrey for the past 20 years, Vincent said.
They both worked for Lookout Emergency Aid Society in Vancouver shelters helping the homeless and mentally ill, “trying to make their lives better.”
He earned a living doing building maintenance, while she taught people how to clean and take care of their new home.
Vincent said he’s lost without his wife.
“She was basically my strength. We were both somewhat like opposite poles, but somewhere in the middle we balanced out…. But I don’t have that no more.”
He’s now without a home – unable to go back to his trailer, unable to afford the home in Vancouver without his wife.
Vincent’s days now consist of calls to Josie’s family in the Phillipines to keep them updated, hunting for a new home for himself and arranging his dead wife’s funeral.
“I sit in a silent motel room now and it’s very, very quiet. It’s almost like a deadly silence. I’m used to having my wife at my side. After 26 years with her… now I’m for the first time realizing that she won’t be there the next day. She won’t be there in a year from now. And I’ve got to take my life and turn it around.”
Back home, he said Josie’s family is “screaming for justice.”
Vincent hasn’t met her family in the Phillipines and the couple had been planning a trip for years.
“Now I got to take her body and her ashes now to her family. That’s going to be very hard for me without her… but I will carry out her wishes and take her remains to the Phillipines and meet her family,” he said. “Then when I come back I have to start a whole new life. I’m devastated. I’m kind of lost because she was my guide.”
Surrey RCMP are urging the public to come forward with any information that might lead them to the driver.
Investigators confirmed Tuesday the suspect vehicle is a 2010 or 2011 grey Honda CRV and that it has damage to the front end.
Police initially released a stock photo but released a short video Tuesday that shows the suspect vehicle driving southbound through the intersection of 84th Avenue and King George Boulevard moments before the crash.
In it, the Honda appears to be travelling at the speed of traffic.
Surrey RCMP’s Criminal Collision Investigation Team has checked with auto body shops, vehicle manufacturers, ICBC, and other agency databases in its search for the vehicle, and has obtained video surveillance from the area. Investigators have also canvassed the area and spoken to multiple witnesses and significant physical evidence was collected at the scene.
But they need more.
“We’re appealing to the public for any information regarding this vehicle,” said Sgt. Alanna Dunlop. “Anyone who may have witnessed something or knows something about the driver or the CRV…. Someone somewhere knows something about this vehicle and hence the joint appeal today from both of us.”
Meanwhile, Vincent said he forgives the person responsible.
“It’s hard to say that. I’m trying to deal with it and I know my wife… she would actually forgive him for this,” Vincent told reporters Tuesday. “It was a cowardly act. I know the driver that day did not mean to kill my wife and it’s taken me a couple days to realize this and if I had to say to him – seek help, there are lawyers, there are doctors, there are priests. Go see one and talk to them because the police are going to be knocking on your door.”
Anyone with information it asked to contact Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or, to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or Solvecrime.ca.