$1,500 fine in fatal crash

UPDATE: 4:50 a.m.

The man who crashed into a 21-year-old UBC Okanagan student on the Coquihalla Highway in 2017, killing her, pleaded guilty to driving without due care in Vancouver court Wednesday morning.

George Holowko, 69, was driving a Jeep on the icy highway just south of Merritt on April 2, 2017 when he lost control on a corner and crashed into Melissa Mimura.

Mimura had just crashed her own car, and was getting out of it, when Holowko crashed into her.

In total, 10 people involved in the multi-vehicle crash were taken to the hospital, but Mimura was the only fatality.

Wednesday morning, Holowko pleaded guilty to one count of driving without due care and attention in Vancouver court, and he was handed a $1,500 fine and ordered to pay a $225 victim surcharge.

Melissa's father said the punishment is not enough. 

"It’s unfair and unbalanced," said Hideki Mimura. "Even if it was his 'mistake,' someone lost a life and in that case, there should be a much more severe penalty."

Mimura, who was originally from Japan, was just two months away from graduating from UBC Okanagan. Her family had planned to fly from Japan to Kelowna to celebrate her graduation.

ORIGINAL: 5 a.m.

A man who allegedly crashed his SUV into a car on the Coquihalla in 2017, killing a young UBC Okanagan student, is expected to plead guilty to driving without due care Wednesday.

The multiple-vehicle collision occurred on the icy mountain highway just south of Merritt on the afternoon of April 2, 2017.

Melissa Mimura, 21, was involved in an initial crash on the slippery road, but she was not seriously injured in the first incident. 

The young Japanese woman, set to graduate from UBC Okanagan just two months later, had been driving home to Kelowna after visiting friends in Vancouver.

Her father, Hideki Mimura, said Melissa's whole family was planning to fly from Japan to celebrate her graduation.

Following her initial crash that afternoon, Melissa exited her vehicle on the icy road. A northbound Jeep lost control as it came around a corner and hit the young woman. She died at the scene.

In total, 10 people involved in the crash were sent to the hospital. Melissa was the lone fatality.

In March of 2018, almost a year after the crash, the alleged driver of the Jeep, 69-year-old George Holowko, was charged with driving without due care and attention.

He's scheduled to appear in Vancouver court Wednesday to plead guilty, and his sentencing is expected to follow. Melissa's boyfriend and several of her friends are planning to attend the hearing. 

Hideki Mimura says the Crown prosecutor in the case has told him the Crown will be asking for a fine between $1,000 and $1,500.

“I was shocked that Mr. Holowko isn’t even getting suspension of licence,” Hideki told Castanet. “Taking someone’s life is a very big matter and even though it was a 'mistake,' there should be heavier penalty I think.

“We’re still having a very hard time every day and it will continue until the last day of our lives.”

Hiroko Mimura, Melissa's mother, described her daughter to the court in in her victim impact statement.

"Melissa had grown to be an admirable young woman, a companion, a confidante, a source of inspiration that brought joy to me every day," Hiroko wrote. "More important than the memories of our past, she carried such promise of a joyous future in the years to come.

"Her life gave greater substance and meaning to my life and her passing has left me devastated."

– with files from Alanna Kelly

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