Grieving Richmond family hit out at driver's sentence

Regina Lurye was fined $1,500 after 86-year-old Milagros Aguasin died while crossing Minoru Boulevard near Richmond Centre

“She was someone that was strong and wasn’t ready to go yet.”

It’s been well over a year since 86-year-old Milagros Aguasin lost her life after being cut down by a car in the shadow of her apartment while crossing Minoru Boulevard, en route to Richmond Centre.

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But the pain etched on the faces of one of Aguasin’s 18 grandchildren and one of her seven children is so raw, the tragedy could have been yesterday.

“We’re all still feeling the same pain,” her grandson, Marco Endique, told the Richmond News, while holding back the tears and looking toward the crosswalk where his grandmother was fatally hit by a car.

“She was taken away from us. She was a role model. It definitely wasn’t her time.”

Milagros Aguasin. Photo submitted

On July 13, 2018, at around 7 p.m., Aguasin was, according to police at the time, on the crosswalk at the intersection of Minoru and Murdoch Avenue, when she was struck by a 2008 Acura sedan. The driver, Regina Lurye, stayed at the scene and called 9-1-1.

Aguasin was taken to hospital with apparently minor injuries. However, her condition worsened overnight and she died from internal bleeding the next day.

Neither speed nor alcohol were considered as factors in the accident, said police at the time.

In Richmond Provincial Court last week, Lurye, pleaded guilty to “driving without due care and attention,” a section of the Motor Vehicle Act, and was fined $1,500.

The Crown had also asked for a one-year driving prohibition, but that was dismissed by the judge, due to Lurye needing her licence to care for her elderly mother.

The sentence, said one of Aguasin’s sons, Carlos Aguasin, is simply not enough.

He said his mom was the “matriarch of the family,” with eight great-grandchildren. She was in “top shape,” due to her tai chi and her weekly dancing group.

Carlos said his mother was obsessed with pressing the button at pedestrian crossings and would never have walked against the light, as was suggested in court by Lurye’s lawyer.

“She was so in shape, we took her dancing on Sundays. Five days before (the accident), mom danced 10 songs with me and two more with someone else,” said Carlos.

It was also suggested in court that Aguasin may not have been in the crosswalk, something that couldn’t be refuted as the City of Richmond’s traffic cameras wipe clean every 45 minutes, for privacy reasons.

“She would not have done that. She would have been in the crosswalk. The police even said so at the time,” said Carlos.

“But there was no evidence from the cameras here. It’s heart-breaking. We wanted justice. We didn’t want (the driver) to go to jail. But there should at the very least be some kind of driving suspension.”

A spokesman for the city said city council has “asked staff to work with the Privacy Commissioner to identify ways that footage can be held for longer periods to assist public safety while keeping within the legislative framework.”

Several family members read out victim impact statements in court, including one of Aguasin’s daughters, Beth Aviles.

“She was known as…Mila to some – which means ‘miracle’ in Spanish,” said Aviles.

“But, someone took the life of our miracle away…and my siblings and I want some form of justice served.”

One of her 18 grandchildren, Marlene Khoo, described Aguasin as the “glue that held everything together. She was the sun after the clouds. It’s been over a year, yet still my son and I…cry.”

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