The mother of two sisters who were struck by a driver in Central Saanich in 2018 is suing for damages for the one who survived.
Ellen Ward’s daughters, Tracey and Kim Ward, were walking their dogs along the 7500-block of Central Saanich Road when the driver of a red Jeep veered off the road and collided with them from behind. Kim, 51, was pronounced dead at the scene. Tracey, then 48, was taken to hospital in critical condition. Now 51, she is unemployable and will require 24-hour care for the rest of her life.
Ward is suing the driver of the Jeep, Anthony Thomas, the buyer of the Jeep, Aggatha Siah, and the dealership where it was purchased, Harris Victoria.
Thomas is also facing criminal charges for impaired driving causing death and bodily harm. His criminal trial concluded Feb. 10 and Thomas is awaiting the judge’s decision.
Ellen Ward’s lawyer Darren Williams laid out the events that led up to the Aug. 27, 2018 crash in his opening statement to the court Monday (Feb. 14).
On Aug. 18, defendant Siah and her partner Farrah Sylvester went to the Harris Victoria dealership to inquire about purchasing a larger vehicle, Williams said. That day, Siah signed a purchase agreement for a 2019 Jeep Cherokee and the dealership applied to a lending company for her financing.
Siah did not receive final approval from the lending company, but a dealership employee switched the plates from Siah’s old car onto the new Jeep and sent her home with it. Williams said the employee told Siah she could keep the Jeep until financing was approved and then return to the dealership to finalize the purchase.
“The Harris Victoria employees … did not advise them that there were any restrictions on the use of the Jeep, including who could drive it,” Williams told the court. He said no transfer papers were signed for the old car or the Jeep.
On the day of the crash, Siah and Sylvester were at a family gathering at Sylvester’s mother’s place in the 7500-block of Central Saanich Road.
Thomas, good friends with one of Sylvester’s sons, Wayne Sylvester, was also at the home. Williams said the two men worked together in the summer of 2018 and often fixed up dirt bikes and tinkered on vehicles together at the Central Saanich home at the end of the day. It was fairly common for Thomas to run errands for the family as well, Williams said.
On the evening of Aug. 27, 2018, Williams said, Thomas was asked to go pick up another of Sylvester’s sons in the new Jeep and bring him back to the family gathering. Thomas did so, and saying the son was too tired, drove southward back to the home along Central Saanich Road, according to Williams.
It was on the return trip, around 7 p.m., that the crash occurred.
The lawsuit, Williams said, is less about the crash itself and more about who owned the Jeep and who had consent to drive it. The trial is scheduled to last until mid-March.
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