LONDON, Ont. - The father of a six-year-old girl has forgiven the woman who was convicted Friday of dangerous driving that killed his daughter and her newborn sister in a crash at a Costco store in London, Ont.
"I can't even imagine what she's feeling," Eric Hall said of Ruth Burger, 66, who pleaded not guilty to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in the case.
A judge convicted Burger of the lesser charges of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
After court, Hall struggled to speak about his daughter, Addison, a girl with dark brown hair and bright blue eyes.
"She was a precious angel," Hall told reporters, his voice catching. "She was everything to me."
The crash decimated a family.
Last July, Burger's car rammed through the store's front doors in reverse, hitting Addison, her mother Danah McKinnon-Bozek — who was eight months pregnant — and her three-year-old sister.
McKinnon-Bozek underwent an emergency caesarean section. Her newborn baby girl, named Rhiannon, lived a week in hospital before dying.
The three-year-old, Miah Bozek, and her mother were seriously injured but survived.
Hall was empathetic to Burger's plight.
"I wish her the best and hope she can ... move on. I never really had anything against her. It's definitely something that's so tragic, but so random too," he said outside the courthouse.
Court heard earlier this month that Burger's car accelerated from 11km/h to 48km/h in the five seconds leading up to the crash, a time in which she didn't hit the brakes. She testified that she realized her foot was stuck when she was reversing out of her parking spot.
She told the court that she began wiggling her foot to try to get it out from between the brake and gas pedals when the vehicle smashed into the store doors.
Justice Jonathan George, who presided over the case, said he didn't believe Burger's foot got caught. Instead, he said he believed Burger may have created a rational explanation for what happened on the day while in a state of confusion.
Hall agreed and said he didn't accept Burger's explanation. But he added he hoped some good could come from the senseless loss of life.
"Maybe, it opens some of our eyes that, you know, we all drive and we all should drive a little more careful — just pay attention out on the roads more."
Burger's lawyer, Ron Ellis, reflected on the outcome of the trial.
"Regardless of the decision, it's a sad day," Ellis said. "She's disappointed, she's surprised and obviously she's going to have to continue to deal with this process going forward."
Burger's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 20, Ellis said.
Hall is left with his daughter's legacy, the memories and pictures of the little girl with the bright blue eyes. After she died, he said, Addison's organs were donated to others in need.
"Really in the end, that's the biggest thing you can have with a situation so tragic," he said. "I ask everyone, if you can, to be an organ donor."
-- By Liam Casey in Toronto; CFPL
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