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‘It breaks me every day’: widow shares pain as careless B.C. driver fined $1,500

No jail time for Joseph McArthur-Pereira after camper-van veers into wrong lane, killing Sean Lecy
The scene of a fatal crash on Highway 97 in Kaleden in 2022. Joseph McArthur-Pereira, who caused the crash, was fined $1,500 for driving without due care or attention. (Facebook)

The driver who crashed into an motorhome and killed a man in 2022 was fined $1,500.

Joseph McArthur-Pereira, 33, appeared via video to hear his sentence on Oct. 16 for driving without due care or attention under the Motor Vehicle Act.

Crown was seeking a 45 day jail term for McArthur-Pereira, while his defence called for no jail time. The maximum sentence that Pereira was facing under the Motor Vehicle Act was a six-month jail term and up to a $2,000 fine.

McArthur-Pereira is currently in custody at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital. At the time of the deadly crash he had breached his release conditions from the BC Review Board.

In 2019, he set fire to the Osoyoos RCMP detachment but was found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

The Review Board ordered him back into custody for another 12 months following a hearing in September.

McArthur-Pereira, who only had a Learner’s license at the time, had been driving his camper-van north along Highway 97 towards Penticton when he heard something fall behind him. When he turned to look, the camper van steered across the curve and into oncoming traffic.

Despite an attempt by the driver of the motorhome, Sean Lecy, to avoid the crash, the two vehicles collided. McArthur-Pereira’s camper van was found almost an entire full lane in the wrong direction.

READ MORE: ‘His life was worth more than mine’ driver in fatal Highway 97 crash tells court

Lecy later died of his injuries after being taken to the hospital from the scene. His death is still fresh in the minds of his family.

Wendy Bridger, Lecy’s wife, who was also in the motorhome at the time of the crash and also suffers from physical and emotional injuries, read out a second victim impact statement. The first had been read at McArthur-Pereira’s first sentencing appearance on Aug. 23.

“We were extremely happy and looking forward to this new life,” she said. “A life that was exploded into a million pieces, leaving my heart in the same condition. I have not been able to put the pieces back together because they no longer fit as they did before.

“I have to live a new life with new pieces, it’s not the life I wanted or the life I envisioned living. I don’t want the new life and the new pieces, I want my old life with my old pieces. It breaks me every day to move forward to continue living.”

Bridger continued to say that she relives the crash every day, and that she had experienced many emotions, but currently was feeling just anger towards McArthur-Pereira for his lack of care.

“I truly hope that this haunts him for the rest of his living days, and I hope that it takes away some of his life and some of his peace.”

On Aug. 23, McArthur-Pereira had been given the opportunity to address the court and said that he wasn’t seeking forgiveness, calling his actions unforgivable. He told the court that he taken the time to look up his victim and learn about him, his family and those that were impacted by the crash and that he had been crushed by what he had done.

“In the hospital, in constant pain, I tried to overdose myself, thinking that even if I did recover I didn’t deserve to have any sort of life after that,” said McArthur-Pereira on Aug. 23 “I don’t know how to live with it, his life was worth more than mine and somehow I lived.”

Judge Shannon Keyes opened her sentencing by noting the difficulty of making a decision in such a case.

“The sentencing decision on a case like this one is the kind of thing that is very, very hard and that’s coming from a person who makes decisions about people’s lives every day,” said Keyes. “There is nothing that I can do today to bring back Mr. Lecy’s, and nothing that I can do today to bring back the dreams that Ms. Bridger had of what their life together could be, because they’re gone. There’s no court order a judge can make that will change any of that.”

Keyes said that this was not a case of someone deliberately or intentionally causing the death of another person.

That along with other factors and the circumstances of case were not aggravated enough to justify additional time in prison.

McArthur-Pereira was badly injured including lacerations, broken bones, amputation of part of his spine, damage to his liver, and the loss of his thumb.

In addition to the $1,500 fine, McArthur-Pereira will have to pay a victim surcharge and will have a 18-month driving prohibition.

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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