Kamloops man will not lose licence despite blowing warn after fatal pedestrian collision

Fatality driver was drinking

A Kamloops man will be allowed to remain behind the wheel despite admitting he’d been drinking before running over and killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk near Thompson Rivers University in 2019.

David Mathew Tucker, 43, pleaded guilty in Kamloops provincial court on Monday to one count of driving without due care and attention.

Tucker was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that struck and killed Lucy Phua, 54, in the intersection of McGill Road and University Drive on Nov. 15, 2019.

Phua, originally from Singapore, was a TRU employee. Court heard she was returning to campus for an evening event when she was killed just steps from her home.

Tucker had stopped at a liquor store in the Landmark development and was turning left onto McGill Road when he hit Phua in the crosswalk, knocking her down and then running over her. He stopped to render assistance and remained at the scene.

Court heard Tucker’s eyes were watery and police smelled liquor on his breath. He was issued a breath demand and blew a warn, meaning he was likely below 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration but above 0.05.

Police later made another breath demand at the Kamloops RCMP detachment, court heard, but a sample was not able to be taken. Tucker was not charged criminally.

Tucker later told police he had consumed a couple of post-work beers prior to the collision. He said he was picking up more beer from the liquor store before he struck and killed Phua.

Court heard Tucker had lights from an oncoming vehicle in his eyes before he struck Phua. He also had a mechanical issue with his truck at the time, which was taking up some of his attention.

Phua lived in a condo in the Landmark development with her spouse, Gar Childs. He was in court on Monday and he described what Phua’s death has meant for him.

“She was a lovely lady,” he said. “She’d come home, took out stuff for dinner, and was just going to go back there and do some stuff and she never made it.”

Childs described the accident as “quite horrific.”

“It’s been a rough year and a half, or however long it’s been,” he said. “She was a lady who certainly didn’t deserve any wrongdoing from anyone. She was a model citizen.”

Tucker apologized to Childs and to Phua's family in Singapore.

“I just want to reiterate how sorry I am for my role in Lucy’s passing, to you [Childs] and to her family overseas,” he said.

“I’m sure the pain I have felt and will feel isn’t close to what you are. I am sorry.”

Defence lawyer Dan McNamee and Crown prosecutor Frank Caputo presented a joint submission for sentence that would allow Tucker to keep his job and continue to provide for his family. Court heard driving is a significant part of his job with a local landscaping company, and he is responsible for getting his daughter to and from her commitments, as well.

McNamee noted Tucker’s willingness to stay at the scene after the crash, and to talk to police.

“This is not one of the hit-and-run crashes that have plagued Kamloops in recent years,” he said, apparently referencing the well-known cases of Jennifer Gatey, who died in 2016 after being struck in Aberdeen, and the three Nigerian students who were killed on First Avenue less than two weeks before Phua’s death.

“Mr. Tucker stayed at the scene and he is here today.”

Kamloops provincial court Judge Ray Phillips accepted the joint submission and ordered Tucker to pay a $2,000 fine, the maximum for driving without due care and attention, and placed him on an 18-month probation term with conditions barring him from driving except for work or family obligations.

“None of this brings back Lucy,” Phillips said.

“It is a tragic consequence, and the people [involved] have to move forward in some way. For the spouse of the victim, this is going to take time. For Mr. Tucker, it’s clear he’s haunted by the accident. It’s something that comes back to him, continues to, and it will for a long time.”

Phua’s death sparked an online petition calling for safety upgrades along the McGill Road corridor. The City of Kamloops has since unveiled a strategy for improvements in the area, which could lead to lowered speed limits or lighting upgrades.

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