Standing outside of the Invermere Provincial Court last Thursday, it was clear to see the pain felt by the family of Robert Howard won’t soon be forgotten.
As I spoke with the brother and sister-in-law of the man who, along with his wife and two daughters, was killed in a fiery collision on Highway 93 in July 2011, I grasped to some extent the struggle they’ve had to come through to deal with their loss, to find the courage to come to Invermere to attend the trial of Jaswinder Singh Bagri, and most impressively, to seek not necessarily a guilty verdict, but change.
They want to see better training for truck drivers. They want to see systems put in place that prevent similar accidents from happening. They acknowledge that the highway winds through challenging mountainous terrain, but place no blame on the provincial government for failing to make the road as safe as it can be, given the topography.
The aftermath of this accident in Kootenay National Park has been with us for two and a half years now, and it’s our role as a newspaper to question why we hear of accidents so often — almost weekly — on the highway. We’ve received data from ICBC plotting the location of serious accidents along the roughly 100 kilometres of highway through the national park over the past decade, and hope to plot a comprehensive map of it in an upcoming Valley Echo.
Whether or not a guilty verdict is handed down in late April is beside the point. What we as a community should hope to see come out of this trial are better standards for the training of truck drivers, so we can drive roads and highways throughout the valley without fear.
We can only hope to see some good come out of this accident after all.