A Prince George lawyer was fined $1,500 in the accidental death of a former Sooke resident, but the young man’s family believes the justice system has failed them.
Cody Diebold, 21, was heading home along Highway 97 in Prince George on the night of May 28, 2015, when a GMC pickup truck collided with his Volkswagen Golf at an intersection.
Diebold was pronounced dead at the scene.
The truck’s driver, 65-year-old Simon David Michael Wagstaffe pleaded guilty, and this month was fined $1,500 to driving without due care and attention.
“It was pathetic. We were disgusted right from the very beginning,” said Louise Paterson, Diebold’s grandmother, who believes the verdict doesn’t fit the crime.
Paterson, a Sooke resident, doesn’t blame the judge or the police for the outcome, but is disappointed with the Canadian justice system.
“I do give the judge credit, I believe she did the best she could do, but maybe in Canada we’re getting a bit slack about people being killed innocently by whether they’re drunk drivers or what they are,” she said.
The family will pursue the matter further.
Provincial court Judge Melissa Gillespie explained to the Diebold family that she couldn’t rule on their son’s death, but that the evidence showed a “momentary lapse” in Wagstaffe’s attention on the road, wrote the Prince George Citizen.
“It took them an hour and a half to cut what was left of him out of that car. Now, tell me that the person wasn’t speeding,” Paterson said, referring to Wagstaffe.
Wagstaffe’s driving record showed two speeding tickets since 2011, though police dismissed any factors of alcohol, speed or other erratic behavior, the court was told. Following the accident, he was remorseful following the accident and has not driven since that night.
Diebold and his family, his parents siblings relocated from Sooke to Prince George a few years ago with hopes of starting a new life.
Paterson described him as the “rock” of the family, as he was both a skilled tradesman and a hard worker.
“Cody didn’t drink. He didn’t smoke. He was just a great kid,” Paterson said.
She recalled the chilling moment when she first found out what happened to her grandson.
“I went into shock. I just sort of stood on the doorstep and said, ‘Cody?’”
Paterson said the family looked feverishly for the last year to find a lawyer who was willing to push forward with Cody’s case, and was only successful in finding one just last week.
She noted this goes beyond money or reprieve, but is hopeful a new case can bring forward a better outcome for the Diebold family.
“Obviously, we can never bring Cody back, but I want to see justice done, Paterson said.