Mother ‘appalled’ by investigation delay

Gemma Snowball
Gemma Snowball's mother Margaret is consoled by her husband Graham, Gemma's stepfather, at a public memorial in Queen's Park in March.
— image credit: Mario Bartel/NewsLeader file photo

The mother of an Australian woman killed at a Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue crosswalk in March is appalled the investigation by New Westminster police is taking so long.

In an email to the NewsLeader from her home in Perth, Margaret Snowball said the NWPD has had ample time to investigate the accident. Her 25-year-old daughter Gemma was struck by a vehicle late in the evening of March 11 shortly after she completed her shift working the deli counter of the Royal City Centre Safeway.

New Westminster police said in a statement a report is expected to be submitted to Crown counsel soon.

The NWPD said collision investigations can be very technical and they want to make sure no mistakes are made.

“The New Westminster Police empathize with the mother of Ms. Snowball, the loss of a child is something that no parent should ever have to go through,” said the statement.

“In this case, the NWPD Traffic Section and the Collision Analysis Reconstruction Team have been working diligently on this investigation which is close to being concluded. We anticipate submitting a report to Crown Counsel on the matter within the next week or two.”

It can’t come soon enough for Margaret Snowball, who is worried the wait will be extended even further before Crown counsel decides whether to charge the driver.

“We are now in the middle of November and the report is still not complete,” she said in an email.

“I understand that the investigation and the laying of charges process takes time but eight months seems excessive.

“At the moment Gemma’s family is in limbo—we do not have the full details of how and why she died—we know the basics but that is all. As Gemma’s mother I need to know the full facts on how this happened before I can even try to come to terms with her death. Gemma’s Canadian family and friends need to know also.”

Margaret pointed out her daughter’s organs were donated to give life to people in her adopted country and wondered if the case is not being given the attention it deserves because Gemma was not a Canadian citizen.

“Here in Western Australia we see drivers charged within a week and it is frustrating to see the length of time that it is taking in Canada.”

If there is a court case, Margaret said she intends to return to Canada because she has a need to hear the full circumstances surrounding her daughter’s “unnecessary death.”

“Gemma was, and still is, loved and missed by so many people,” she said.

Gordon Harder, a Safeway customer service representative, worked with Gemma and was part of an employee drive to raise money to help the family defray expenses for coming to Gemma’s funeral.

“I can understand for Margaret where she’s coming from, she’d like to have some closure,” said Harder.

“Somebody lost their life, I’m sure people would like to know [why].”

He said $2,500 in funds were sent to Margaret which she donated to the organ donation unit at a hospital in her community.

A similar donation was made to Royal Columbian Hospital where Gemma was taken following the accident and later died after she was taken off life support.

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