Family of student killed in Edmonton by drunk driver awarded $140K

the Edmonton Sun, June 16, 2015

The family of a University of Alberta pharmacy student who was killed by a drunk driver in 2011 has been awarded a $140,000 judgement against her killer.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice June Ross granted the default judgement on June 2 as a result of the defendant, Stephanie Beckley, having never filed a statement of defence to the 2013 lawsuit filed by Laura Chee's family.

Beckley, 30, was sentenced to three years in prison and banned from driving for five years on Feb. 2, 2012, after earlier pleading guilty to driving with a blood-alcohol limit over .08 causing death in relation to the Feb. 21, 2011, collision that took the life of the 23-year-old Chee.

The victim's family had filed an $825,000 statement of claim on Feb. 15, 2013, seeking damages for emotional shock, bereavement, counselling and loss of income.

According to the statement of claim, it was part of the Chinese cultural tradition of the Chee family that the victim would have supported her family financially after completing her degree and starting work as a pharmacist.

In an affidavit filed by the victim's sister, Lillian Chee, it says Laura Chee would have been expected to pay $800 per month to provide for their parents, both seniors.

According to agreed facts read out in court at Beckley's sentencing, Chee had been in the front passenger seat of her boyfriend David Lam's 1998 Honda Civic.

Lam was making a left turn onto 76 Avenue from 178 Street and had waited as an oncoming, north-bound vehicle stopped for a light turning from amber to red.

However, Lam did not see Beckley, an Edson-born mother of two from Kelowna, as she passed the stopped vehicle and continued through the intersection.

Beckley's 2000 Jeep TJ, which had earlier been seen swerving in and out of its lane, collided with the passenger side of Lam's Honda, causing Chee to suffer fatal blunt injuries to her chest and abdomen.

Provincial Court Judge Fred Day called the death a "wasteful, senseless loss" and said it was aggravating that Beckley's blood-alcohol level was more than double the legal limit and the crash happened as she raced through an intersection to beat a red light.

"She drank, she drove recklessly and she killed," he said.
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