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EDITORIAL – Outcome of hit-and-run case brings scant comfort

(Image: CFJC)

An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IT’S TRUE THAT the loss of a loved one can never be made right by the courts. But families are at least comforted when they feel justice has been served.

Jason Gourlay, the man who accidently struck and killed 16-year-old Jennifer Gatey with his vehicle a year and a half ago, was sentenced Monday to 10 months in jail, minus time served.

The tragedy of Gatey’s death is well-known in Kamloops. She was on a sidewalk at a streetlight on Pacific Way waiting for a bus when Gourlay’s vehicle swerved and killed her. He later said he’d been distracted by a dog.

He didn’t stop to see what had happened.

According to Gourlay, he didn’t know about Jennifer Gatey’s death until the following day. Instead of coming forward, he cleaned up his vehicle and switched out a signal light.

It took four months for charges to be laid after a thorough investigation by police, four months of anxiety for Jennifer Gatey’s family and friends. Eventually, Gourlay pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and obstruction of justice. He apologized to the family, admitting he was wrong not to stop that night. He said he hoped the family could find closure.

When you lose a child, there’s no such thing as closure. A son or daughter’s death — and the tremendous hole it leaves — is something that stays with you for the rest of your life. It’s the worst kind of grief.

In this case, one can’t imagine the added pain caused by the fact Jennifer Gatey died in such circumstances, and by the needless delay in getting to a legal resolution due to the driver’s reluctance to do the right thing.

Gourlay’s sentence is more than his defence lawyer proposed, less than the Crown prosecutor asked for. Sure, he’ll have to live with what he did for the rest of his life, but it doesn’t even approach the pain of losing a daughter.

Monday’s sentencing leaves a distinctly unsatisfied feeling about whether justice has been done for Jennifer Gatey and her family.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6015 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Outcome of hit-and-run case brings scant comfort

  1. Jerome Farrell // May 31, 2018 at 7:35 AM // Reply

    I also cannot believe he did not lose his Licence.With justifiable longer penalties for impaired and distracted driving ,he should have a long loss of driving privileges.

  2. Tracey Pointer // May 29, 2018 at 10:47 AM // Reply

    He killed someone and tried to hide it. 10 months is ludicrous. I heard the judge took pity on him because he got beat up twice in jail. I call that bunkhouse justice. My heart goes out to the Gatey family.

  3. Grouchy 1 // May 29, 2018 at 9:44 AM // Reply

    This sentence is ludicrous, and so were the charges. Because he left the scene, tried to hide his vehicle, and the damage, he should have been charged with manslaughter with no bargaining on the charge. I feel sorry for the family finding out that their daughters life wasn’t worth Crown doing a proper job on this file.

  4. And another appalling thing is worth mentioning in my opinion…the hefty fee the defence lawyer has earned.
    Jensen law office should donate the money to a charity in memory of Jennifer…because someone has to do the right thing!

  5. And society overall is also worse off.
    The most cowardly behaviour by Gourlay should’ve been dealt with very serious consequences. The court system at the present moment is a sham, an absolute shame.

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