The best friend of the teen struck and killed while crossing a road in Nanaimo says he was surprised by the sentence the driver received.
Eric Shim, 17, was walking across Hammond Bay Road at a crosswalk when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Brandon Murdoch last year.
Shim died from his injuries six days later while in hospital.
On Monday, Murdoch, now 35-years-old, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention. The judge was convinced jail time would do more harm than good and instead gave him a $2,000 fine, plus a $300 victim impact surcharge, as well as a two-year driving prohibition.
Andrew McParland, Shim’s best friend since sixth grade, said the judge’s light sentence was a surprise.
“Initially, it was a little bit surprising and almost underwhelming,” he said. “But I talked with my parents about it as well as my friends and after some more consideration it’s the kind of thing that will stick with the driver for the rest of his life and come back to haunt him multiple times through his life.”
The court heard Murdoch was not legally impaired by alcohol but was close to it and he also had prescription drugs in his bloodstream.
A Nanaimo woman who heads an organization against drunk driving says this is a dangerous combination.
“If you’re taking prescribed drugs find out from your doctor if it’s safe to drive but if you’re going to mix it with alcohol don’t take the chance. It’s just not worth the risk to everybody,” said Joan Parsons of Rid Roads of Impaired Drivers.
McParland said losing his best friend has underscored something he’s been told as a new driver.
“You can’t always rely on other people to always be paying attention for you and unfortunately in Eric’s situation it kind of seems like the driver was kind of relying on Eric to be paying attention for him,” he said.
McParland believes the sentence has given him some closure and now he can just focus on the good memories he shared with his friend.
Shim’s parents have given McParland a Japanese model Gundam built by their son.
“I think this was one of Eric’s favourites so it definitely has a lot of personal meaning to me now,” said McParland.