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Defendants deny liability in Hwy 99 lawsuit

Case involving fatal 2015 crash near Lions Bay continues



Responses to a lawsuit regarding a fatal accident on the Sea to Sky Highway in 2015 are still slowly coming in months after the fact.

On Sept. 2, 2016, Whistler's Olivia Rey filed a Notice of Civil Claim against the Ministry of Transportation, the Municipality of the Village of Lions Bay, Miller Capilano Maintenance Corporation and Sea to Sky Investment Limited Partnership (SSILP).

The suit alleges that the section of the highway near Lions Bay where the accident occurred was poorly designed, and no steps were taken by any of the defendants to remediate the highway.

On Nov. 1, 2015, Rey was the driver of a Honda Civic travelling north on Highway 99. Approximately 400 metres north of Lions Bay Avenue, her vehicle hit the landscaped median and rolled into the southbound lanes, striking a Nissan Sentra. The 75-year-old driver of the southbound vehicle, a resident of Squamish, was also injured, though not seriously.

Rey, a registered massage therapist, suffered multiple fractured vertebrae, loss of the use of her legs, partial loss of the use of her arms and hands and more as a result of the accident.

Rey's best friend, 32-year-old Marie-Pier Champagne, also of Whistler, was killed in the accident.

Rey is seeking general and pecuniary damages from the defendants, including loss of past wages, cost of transportation to and from medical treatments, past and future medical and rehab expenses and renovation costs to make her home wheelchair-accessible.

Miller Capilano filed its response on Oct. 12, followed by the Village of Lions Bay on Nov. 17. SSILP filed its own response on Mar. 13.

All the defendants denied liability for damages arising from the accident.

On March 22, SSILP filed a third-party notice, naming Peter Kiewit Sons ULC and Kiewit Infrastructure Co., which it contracted to do upgrades to the highway in 2005.

"It was the responsibility of Peter Kiewit Sons to design and build the Project in such a manner as to be safe and free from any danger as alleged by (Rey) in the Notice of Civil Claim, and the failure to do so as alleged in the Notice of Claim was an act or omission of Peter Kiewit Sons or some person for which it was responsible, namely an employee or sub-contractor," states the Third Party Notice.

SSILP is seeking an injunction requiring Kiewit to appoint counsel and defend the case on behalf of the investment partnership at its own expense. It also wants Kiewit to reimburse SSILP for all expenses to do with the lawsuit to date.

As of March 28, the Ministry of Transportation had yet to file.

"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of victims of crashes which have occurred on the Sea to Sky Highway," reads an emailed statement from the ministry.

"As this matter is before the courts, the ministry cannot comment on a response to the lawsuit, or the timing of the response."

The ministry has invested millions into safety upgrades on the highway since the upgrade was completed in 2010, including $6 million last year alone.

Most recently, the ministry announced $800,000 for the construction of a concrete barrier along the stretch of Highway 99 where Rey's accident occurred.

The concrete median barrier will replace the current, landscaped barrier, enhancing safety on the busy stretch of highway by mitigating crossover collisions.

The concrete will also act as a visual barrier, boosting safety for all motorists, especially during poor weather conditions and at night.

"From a policy perspective this is a very good result as Olivia wanted to ensure that no one would have to go through what has happened to her due to that landscaped median," said Rey's lawyer Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, of Race and Company LLP, in an email.

"The lawsuit will carry on in the meantime."


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