A woman in Canada who killed a teenage cyclist when she ran into him and two of his friends while driving her sports utility vehicle (SUV) is suing his family for C$1.35 million in damages – claiming that “her enjoyment of life has been and will be lessened.”
The Province reports that the lawsuit alleges that due to the incident in which 17-year-old Brandon Majeski was killed in October 2012, Sharlene Simon “has sustained and will sustain great pain and suffering,” including “a severe shock to her system.”
The lawsuit, filed in December on Ontario Superior Court, also names as defendants two friends of Brandon’s who were with him when he was killed, Richard McLean and Jake Roberts, both aged 16.
Also named is the County of Simcoe, some 50 miles north of Toronto, which is responsible for maintaining Innisfil Beach Road, where the fatal collision took place.
The teenagers were riding three abreast on a rural road as they returned home from a coffee shop at 1.30 in the morning of 28 October when Simons’ Kia Sorrento SUV struck all three from behind.
The impact threw Brandon over the roof of the vehicle and despite the efforts of paramedics at the scene, he died approximately two hours later in hospital.
Of his friends, Jake escaped serious injury, but Richard spent a number of weeks in a hospital in Toronto as a result of the injuries he sustained.
An investigation by the South Simcoe Police Service held that the cyclists’ “lack of visibility… was the largest contributing factor,” and that “the driver of the Kia did not see the cyclists on the roadway and was unable to make an evasive reaction.”
A Crown Prosecutor told police that there was “absolutely no reasonable prospect of conviction and that no charges should be laid.”
Derek Majewski, the victim’s father, said: “My dead son and the boys are being sued by the woman that killed him because she is distraught.
“Normally, I would not react like this, but I think it’s very cruel,” he added.
The family was struck by a second tragedy when Brandon’s elder brother Devon, who had been hit hard by his sibling’s death, died in his sleep as a result of alcohol and pharmaceuticals.
According to the report on The Province, Brandon’s parents have some concerns about the police investigation, and they made a complaint to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, claiming that the it was biased, because Simon’s husband is also a law enforcement officer, albeit in a different force.
They believe that their son and his friends are being blamed for the crash, because they were riding three abreast, were wearing dark clothing (but with some reflective material), weren’t wearing helmets and only two of the bikes were equipped with what the police termed “minimal reflectors.”
As Majewski put it, “They’re kids; they’re allowed to make a mistake.”
A police report into the incident said that while Simon was driving at around 10kph above the 80kph speed limit, she did not have to take a breath test since there were “no grounds to request” that she do so.
It added however a roadside screening device established that she had “zero alcohol content in her blood system.”
Brandon’s parents, who are no longer together and have new partners, are themselves plaintiffs in a C$900,000 lawsuit against the Simons and Simcoe County.
They claim that Sharlene Simon was speeding, under the influence of alcohol or using her mobile phone to text at the time of the incident, and that her husband allowed her to drive her vehicle when “he knew or ought to have known” she was in no fit state to do so.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.