The family of a woman who lost her life in a South Surrey car crash involving a speeding motorcyclist has been awarded nearly $2.5 million in damages.
Mariam Ghaly, who died in the 2017 incident, her husband, Wagih, and their two children, Marina and Kyrollos — who were 15 and 13 at the time, respectively — were all involved in the “catastrophic” motor-vehicle accident on King George Boulevard near 48 Avenue on Oct. 1, 2017.
Ghaly’s husband and children sued the motorcyclist, Paul Mand, in B.C. Supreme Court.
“Mr. Ghaly testified his wife was his life. When she died, he felt it was the end of the world for him, and the life they had built together had collapsed,” wrote Justice Emily Burke in her ruling posted Monday (March 27).
After losing his wife, Wagih experienced depression, which was detailed by psychologist Dr. Laura Klubben, who assessed Wagih after his wife’s death. She noted that Wagih’s symptoms were consistent with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), persistent depressive disorder with persistent major depressive episode (severe) and anxiety disorder.
“While Mr. Ghaly has done his best to continue living his life, it would be repugnant in the circumstances to not to acknowledge his deep pain, which continues to this day and has been medically diagnosed as affecting his day-to-day functioning relative to his pre-accident life,” the judge wrote.
The Ghalys lived in Bellingham, Wash. but would drive to St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey every weekend. When the crash occurred, the family was on their way home from church.
Mariam Ghaly, driving a 2011 Honda CRV, encountered Paul Mand on his Honda motorcycle as he sped and weaved through traffic. Mand passed Ghaly’s car on the right, causing her to turn left to avoid him. In doing so, she directed the vehicle toward the centre meridian. To avoid a collision, Ghaly corrected her vehicle, causing it to swerve to the right and off the road. The car landed upside down in a water-filled ditch.
The family of four were suspended in the air by their seat-belts as water began to fill the car.
They were trapped inside for eight minutes before being rescued.
“Mr. Ghaly does not remember much of the accident itself. He does, however, recall the ‘flash’ of the motorcycle,” wrote Burke.
“He heard his wife praying. He heard her last words as she extended her hand to his and then held his hand without speaking further. He heard his children yelling for help, and he started to see people.”
After being pulled from the car by a few Good Samaritans, the Ghalys were taken to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. While Wagih, Marina and Kyrollos were released from hospital, Mariam Ghaly, 42 at the time, fell into a coma.
Wagih spent a great deal of time at the hospital. His daughter Marina later detailed how she was not able to hug her mom. Six days after the accident Mariam Ghaly died. Cause of death was hypoxic encephalopathy — a brain injury caused by lack of oxygen — from drowning.
The defendants in the case, including Mand and ICBC, admitted liability for the accident and that the family was injured.
“They, however, contest the nature, extent, and duration of the injuries. They also dispute the amounts the plaintiffs seek under certain heads of damages,” Burke wrote.
The family was awarded $2.48 million, comprised of $1.3 million in damages and $1.1 million under the Family Compensation Act.