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U.S. family awarded $2.48M after mother's Metro Vancouver drowning death

The October 2017 accident occurred on King George Boulevard near 48th Avenue in Surrey.
The mother of two was driving a 2011 Honda CRV when her vehicle went off the road in Surrey, B.C.

B.C. Supreme Court has awarded a man and his children $2.48 million in damages following a “catastrophic motor vehicle accident” that claimed the life of his wife.

In a March 24 decision, Justice Emily Burke said Wagih Ghaly, Mariam Ghaly, and their children, Marina Aziz Ghaly and Kyrollos Ghaly, were involved in an accident in Surrey on Oct. 1, 2017.

Court documents state the family was driving from Surrey’s St. George Coptic Orthodox Church to their Bellingham, Washington home. The mother of two was driving a 2011 Honda CRV.

Burke said their vehicle left the road after a series of events created by defendant Paul Mand, who was riding a Honda motorcycle and weaving through traffic.

The judge said Mand attempted to pass on right side of the vehicle, causing it to leave the road and go tumbling down an embankment.

“The vehicle came to rest upside down,” the judge said. “The Ghaly family was suspended in the air by their seat belts, and water filled the vehicle.”

The family was taken to New Westminster’s Royal Columbian Hospital where Ghaly, 42, died on Oct. 6, as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident.

“The cause of death was hypoxic encephalopathy, with the antecedent cause being drowning,” Burke said.

Also named as defendants in the case were John Doe, Jane Doe and ICBC. Burke said the defendants have admitted liability for the accident and conceded the injuries.

“They, however, contest the nature, extent, and duration of the injuries,” Burke said. “They also dispute the amounts the plaintiffs seek under certain heads of damages.”

The accident

The accident occurred on King George Boulevard near 48th Avenue in Surrey.

Witnesses said Mand overtook the Ghaly vehicle on the rightmost side of the right lane of the roadway while speeding.

A Coast Mountain Bus Company bus camera corroborated the evidence.

Upon seeing Mand passing on her right, Ghaly turned left to avoid a collision, which directed the Honda CRV towards the centre concrete median. She corrected the direction of her vehicle again to avoid impacting the median. Subsequently, her vehicle swerved to the right, ultimately leaving the road.

Water began to fill the overturned vehicle, submerging the family’s heads.

“They were eventually freed from the vehicle when Good Samaritans smashed the window located on the rear hatch of the vehicle, allowing them to be extricated,” Burke said.

Ghaly's husband testified 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,” Burke said.

“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,” the judge said.