Family and friends want #Justice for Lidia

It’s been one year since Brookwood student Lidia Ramos was killed in a crash in Mission.

MONIQUE TAMMINGA

Times Reporter

Last month, Angela Ramos marked what would have been her daughter Lidia’s 17th birthday.

Although it’s been more than a year since a car crash took Lidia’s life, it feels like yesterday, Angela says, that a police officer told her the terrible news.

The Brookswood Secondary student was supposed to celebrate her sweet 16th birthday the week she died in a crash off a logging road in Mission, on March 5, 2016.

Lidia, who was in Grade 10, had told her mom she was sleeping over at a friend’s house, but instead went to a bonfire party near Stave Falls in Mission.

There was a torrential downpour at the time of the crash — around 1 a.m. The vehicle slid 15 feet down an embankment and came to rest with the roof against a tree, said Mission RCMP at the time.

The impact of the crash was greatest on the driver’s side, where Lidia was sitting, said her mom.

The driver, a 21-year-old Langley man, had reportedly lost control on the muddy switchbacks, sliding off road. At the time, Mission RCMP said speed was believed to be a factor.

Lidia died at the scene. The 16-year-old Langley youth sitting beside her in the backseat was left in a coma. He suffered several broken bones and other injuries, but survived.

Both the driver and the front-seat passenger, a 19-year-old man from Surrey, suffered upper body injuries and were taken to hospital.

Thirteen months later, Ramos’ family and friends wonder why the investigation into the crash is still “ongoing.”

“The driver involved has moved on, kept his licence, and has not been criminally charged or even ticketed,” said Angela.

Around Lidia’s 17th birthday, Ramos called Mission RCMP to learn the status of the investigation.

She was told police are still waiting for a coroner’s report.

“My baby has been put on the back burner. I don’t think it’s fair that they can just neglect her like that, she said.

The Coroner’s Office confirmed Thursday, they are in the final stages of their investigation.

In explaining the length of time these investigations take, Regional Coroner Brynne Redford stated, “In order for a Coronoer to complete their report, they must wait for all other reports related to the death to be completed first. The complexity of a case may also impact the length of time it takes for a report to be completed.”

This provides no comfort to those missing Lidia.

“The driver has moved on. He’s still driving. He’s never reached out to me, never said sorry,” said Angela.

According to the Mission RCMP, the investigation “is active and ongoing.” Police declined to provide any further details.

#JUSTICE FOR LIDIA

“He needs to be brought to justice,” said Angela.

“We need justice for Lidia.”

That’s why a family friend started a petition on change.org called “Justice for Lidia.”

More than 270 people have already signed and the family hopes the momentum will grow with the petition being sent to Langley’s MLAs.

To view the petition, go to change.org and search ‘justice for Lidia.’

“We are left to pick up the pieces of March 5, 2016.

“Pieces that have been left on the floor like a puzzle we can’t put together,” said Angela in between sobs.

“I don’t get to hold her, see her with her first love, hold her children.”

In a tragic twist of fate, five days after Lidia was killed, the Ramos family once again faced tragedy. Lidia’s cousin, Angela’s nephew, was killed in a crash in Langley.

The young man was in the backseat of a vehicle, on his way to see Angela when a pickup truck rear-ended their Mustang at 197 Street and 16 Avenue.

Angela’s nephew died of the injuries he sustained in that crash. Last Friday, that driver pleaded guilty to driving without due care. He will be sentenced at a later date after the victim impact statements are gathered, said Langley RCMP.

A Family Left in Pieces

Lidia was her mom’s ‘Latina princess’ and a loving sister to her many siblings.

“She was a hugger, she loved her sisters. She was a counsellor to many friends at Brookswood Secondary and at other schools, too.”

“She had so many plans for the future.”

Family friend, and adopted daughter Stevie Burr said Lidia was the one who taught her baby girl to walk.

Lidia’s sister, Rosa, is 25 but she said it was Lidia who acted like a mom to her.

Since Lidia’s passing, Rosa has had a baby and named her after Lidia.

Their life since losing Lidia has been forever altered.

“I feel like I’m in extra slow motion. Now, every time I drive away, my family is terrified something is going to happen to me,” said Angela.

She can’t sleep and barely eats. She used to be assistant manager at the Clayton Heights A&W but finds it hard to work. Angela’s youngest son is having anger issues since losing his older sister.

The Ramos’ grief remains as raw as the morning a police officer came to their door to tell her the news no parent should ever hear.

When news got out that Lidia had passed away, words of condolences came flooding in. First responders and the tow truck drivers at the scene came to Lidia’s funeral. Witnesses have stayed in touch.

A GoFundMe account raised thousands of dollars to cover the cost of Lidia’s funeral.

Little Compensation

The Ramos family have found there is no compensation for parents left behind when a child is killed.

“If it wasn’t for this amazing community, I wouldn’t have been able to afford a funeral and cremation for my daughter.”

Lidia’s ashes are now home with Angela. She’s also created a garden in her daughter’s honour.

The B.C. Family Compensation Act allows for “up to” $5,000 for funeral costs but clearly states there is no financial assistance for grief. The most common allotment for a funeral is $2,500. Angela wants to see this change.

Losing a child is the worst kind of grief there is, she said. Often, a parent can’t function, and likely can’t work for some time, but still has to pay bills.

“I would love to see a government official who has suffered what I have, the loss of a child, and say they are OK with how the system is now.”

As well, Angela wants to warn other parents about purchasing ICBC’s Excess Underinsured Motorist Protection. For 10 years, she had paid into the excess UMP insurance as a way of protecting her family, should anyone be hurt in another person’s vehicle as the policy extends to every family member in a household while they are occupants of any vehicle.

ICBC’s brochure reads: if you are injured or killed in a crash with an underinsured vehicle and you are not at fault for the crash [UMP] ensures you receive compensation that you are legally entitled to.”

However, ICBC has not agreed to recognize her excess UMP insurance, she claims.

“I’m not a lawyer, I don’t know how to fight this. You know there are many parents out there just like me who are so broken down, they can’t fight. It’s not right. We shouldn’t have to fight for our loved ones, but here I am, willing to, for my Lidia.”

ICBC said it can’t respond to a specific case without knowing the claim number and consent from the customer, but it did offer general information about under-insured motorist protection (UMP) insurance.

“Generally, UMP cases usually take some time to settle… There are no specific death benefits payments under UMP and Excess UMP,” a representative from ICBC said.

Full story at langleytimes.com.

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