Senior struck at Surrey bus stop ‘lost his love of life’: Judge

Court awards Harry Sangra more than $405K in compensation for life-altering 2014 hit-and-run incident.

An 85-year-old man who suffered devastating injuries – including brain damage – when he was struck by a truck at a Surrey bus stop two years ago has been awarded more than $405,000 by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

Harry Sangra was standing at a bus shelter near Scott Road and 75A Avenue after visiting his younger brother when he was struck.

According to a Dec. 14 court judgment, Scott Lima, now 25, was driving his sister Christine Sine’s truck northbound on Scott Road on Feb. 23, 2014 when he collided with a Volvo, causing it to spin 180 degrees into oncoming traffic.

Lima fled the scene without checking on the father and son in the Volvo. As he sped away, his truck spun, its rear end crashing into the bus shelter where Sangra was standing. Lima then accelerated away from that scene as well. He as arrested later after pulling over and walking to his sister’s place.

Sangra was left unconscious on the sidewalk, a sheet of glass from the bus shelter on top of him. Investigators estimated he had flown 10 to 20 feet from where he was struck.

Sangra was rushed to Royal Columbian Hospital with life-threatening injuries. He had massive internal bleeding, and underwent multiple urgent surgeries. He also suffered a brain injury, spine, skull, facial and pelvic fractures and numerous cuts. He was in an induced coma for 10 days.

Prior to the collision, Sangra, a retired heavy duty mechanic, led an active life, going to the gym and swimming regularly. He did most of the grocery shopping and housekeeping.

“To say that Mr. Sangra embraced life is an understatement,” said Justice Paul Walker.

That all changed after the crash.

“The collision has had a significant and most adverse effect on his life,” said Walker. “I was able to see glimpses of his humour and the person that he used to be. In spite of his own extraordinary efforts and those of his wife and son to help him recover, Mr. Sangra has lost his vitality, his love of life, and much of his physical mobility. He is depressed and at times has questioned his resolve to live.”

Sangra’s mobility is now limited, he can’t drive or maintain his house or car and needs help with his rehabilitation therapy at the gym and pool. He also has difficulty speaking and swallowing due to his injuries and angers more easily.

The judge agreed with Sangra’s lawyer that Lima’s recollection of what happened was “littered with enormous credibility issues, much of it a “concoction.” In his testimony, Lima admitted responsibility for the crashes. As the vehicle owner, Sine was vicariously liable for his conduct. The case was one of assessing damages.

Because Lima was in breach of his insurance policy at the time of the incident, ICBC was a third party in the case.

While Sangra’s future care requirements were outlined by an occupational therapist, ICBC and Sine (the vehicle owner) challenged the recommendations based on the opinion of another OT, Robert Gander.

Justice Walker, however, found Gander’s recommendations unreliable for multiple reasons.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Gander did not meet with Mr. Sangra, did not attend at his home, nor did he speak with his wife or family,” the judge said, adding the therapist had “minimal” experience dealing with patients suffering from brain injuries. “Mr. Gander conceded in cross-examination that he has never made a recommendation that any person of that age, or older, receive such care.”

The more-than $405,000 awarded to Sangra includes non-pecuniary and special damages, loss of past and future housekeeping ability, and in-trust awards for his wife and son. Further compensation for his future care has yet to be calculated.

 

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