A remarkable scene of forgiveness unfolded in a Port Coquitlam, B.C. court room on Friday, where a Surrey man was sentenced for his role in a hit-and-run collision that left a 32-year-old mother dead.
The crash happened just before 10 p.m. on April 12, 2018, when veterinary technician Tassis Vix was walking to the store on Lougheed Highway.
Micheal Howard Thomas, speeding at more than 90 km/h over the speed limit, struck her and fled the scene. Evidence later showed Thomas had been drinking at a pub and bar before the collision.
On Thursday, Thomas — now 45 — stood before Vix’ grieving family and apologized to each in turn, before offering an apology to the woman he killed.
The driver and the victim’s mother, Janet Pasmore, then embraced as the entire family wept.
“I feel peace today, coming out of there,” Pasmore told Global News outside the court.
“He’s been suffering just as much as us all this time, and I think it’s enough, it’s time. I wanted him to feel that he could start healing, because it helps us heal.”
Pasmore told Thomas she forgave him, and told Global News she believes his remorse was real.
“He sobbed and he said thank you so much, I wasn’t expecting you to forgive me,” she said.
In a powerful victim impact statement, Vix’ daughter Nevaeh told the court she’d first thought news of the crash was “all a sick joke,” and added that she still feels guilt for not saying goodbye.
Despite that, Neveah also said she forgives Thomas.
“Everyone makes mistakes, and he made a big one,” she said. “He wasn’t thinking before he chose to drink and drive.”
Tassis’ brother Brandon said he’s still processing his feelings towards the man who killed his sister.
“There was a lot of talk about how much he’d imbibed and then still drove, and yet all those charges were mysteriously not present during the case, and I just feel like that enables more people to do what he did,” he said.
“There’s a bit of relief, but the pain is still present.”
Thomas turned himself in the day after the collision, and offered a plea before charges were sworn in the case.
He was sentenced to two years less a day in jail for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and failing to stop at the scene of a collision.
“It’s finally done. And (Tassis is) with us — me mostly — all the time,” said Pasmore.
“I just hope that (Thomas and his wife) are able to move forward, and have better lives now and make better choices.”
— With files from Rumina Daya
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