Nanaimo parents Jiyeon Kim and Myeongsup Shim have been awarded nearly $328,000 in a civil suit against the driver who struck and killed their teenage son in 2019.
Seventeen-year-old Eric Shim was walking in a crosswalk along Hammond Bay Road when then-34-year-old Brandon Murdoch crashed into him with his car.
Eric was airlifted to hospital in Victoria, where he died of his injuries six days later.
In his sentencing hearing in 2020, the court heard that Murdoch had alcohol in his system, just below the legal limit, as well as prescription drugs.
He was later found guilty of driving without due care and attention, and was sentenced to a $2,000 fine, a $300 victim impact surcharge and a two-year driving prohibition – with the sentencing judge saying they believed that jail time would do more harm than good.
Shim’s friend, Andrew McParland, told CHEK News in 2020 that he was initially shocked and underwhelmed by the sentence, but that he believed Murdoch would continue to feel guilt about the incident for years to come.
Shim’s parents later filed a civil suit against Murdoch, seeking between $1.1 million and $1.6 million for damages and loss of future financial assistance from their only child.
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The Shims were ultimately awarded $327,634 in the suit, which was released to the public Tuesday.
The parents were seeking the funds since Eric helped in their family restaurant, and often served as a translator for them.
Central to the suit was also the traditional Korean practice of hyodo, a form of filial piety that generally sees children provide economic and other supports for their parents over their lifetime.
Expert testimony and witnesses painted a portrait of a loyal son who likely would have practiced hyodo despite living in Canada, and the judge agreed that Eric would have supported his parents as he grew older.
The judge awarded the Shims nearly $328,000, down from their $1.6 million claim, largely because he believed there were some overestimates in how much Eric would have made in his career, and how much he would have given to his parents over time.
The court noted that compensation, under the Family Compensation Act, is intended to give victims compensation for economic losses, and not to serve as a replacement for the deceased, place a value on their life, or stand as financial reward for the survivors or punishment for the defendants.
In a victim impact statement read during Murdoch’s initial sentencing in 2020, Eric’s mother said the crash forever changed her life.
“He was my only child,” she said in her statement. “All my hopes and dreams for his future were taken away from me and I’m left with nothing but overwhelming grief. I’m haunted by memories of my son.”
-With files from CHEK’s Kendall Hanson.