Across the Pacific, a family awaits an apology in Kamloops

Thompson Rivers University employee Lucy Phua was killed last fall while crossing McGill Road at University Drive. Says Lucy's sister, Nancy, from Singapore: “We just want inner peace. We want an apology. I don’t know what else we could do or want in this case.”

It’s been almost a year since Lucy Phua died after being struck by a vehicle on McGill Road and, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, her family is still waiting for closure — and hoping for an apology.

The 54-year-old Thompson Rivers University employee was killed while crossing McGill Road at University Drive, west of Summit Drive, just before 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2019.

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She was returning to campus for an evening event when she was struck by a Ford pickup truck.

“We just don’t know what we can do,” Nancy Phua, Lucy’s sister, told KTW in a phone call from her home in Singapore. “We’ve gone through all this anguish. What else is there to do? We are trying to live our lives and go on.”

Phua said her family had an understandably hard time grappling with the news of Lucy’s death.

“We were in shock,” she said.

“I got a call from her colleague and she mentioned Lucy was gone.

“I said, ‘What do you mean by gone? What happened?’ It was very shocking to the family. We broke the news to my parents and they couldn’t believe their ears, either.”

Phua said she immediately arranged a trip to Kamloops to sort out Lucy’s affairs. After her sister’s funeral, she flew home to Singapore with her ashes.

fatal McGill
Portions of McGill Road were closed for more than six hours following the Nov. 15, 2019, fatal collision at the University Drive intersection. - KTW file

Phua described Lucy, her older sister, as someone she looked up to while growing up in an admittedly humble Singapore family.

“She was like a mentor,” Phua said. “She was like a guardian growing up. She looked after me, basically, when my parents were out working. She helped me with my school work.”

Lucy worked as a schoolteacher in Singapore before opting to head overseas in 1987 to further her education.

“She told us she found this university, University of Manitoba,” Phua said.

“It was very far away, very cold. She made that decision to further her studies.”

An academic advisor, Lucy worked for 11 years at Trinity Western University in Langley before moving to Kamloops for a job at TRU in 2013.

Phua said family was important to Lucy, especially from a distance.

She called her parents regularly to check in on them and returned to Singapore each December for Christmas.

According to Phua, that closeness has made it more difficult for Lucy’s family to come to terms with her death.

“I don’t know what else we can do,” she said.

“My sister lived her life and she was going to retire in a few years’ time. She lived a full life. I’m not sure what we have to go through. She lived her life fully, but it’s just too soon, you know?”

Lucy Phua (centre) and the advising team she worked with at Thompson Rivers University. - Facebook

Lucy’s death sparked an online petition seeking safety upgrades for McGill Road. City officials last week unveiled a strategy for improvements along the corridor, which could lead to lowered speed limits and lighting upgrades.

Police confirmed to KTW their investigative findings into the collision that killed Lucy have been forwarded to Crown prosecutors for charge assessment, though they wouldn’t say what charges had been recommended.

At the time of Lucy’s death, Kamloops RCMP said the driver of the pickup truck remained at the scene and co-operated with investigators. There has been no indication the driver was speeding or impaired at the time of the crash.

Phua said she was told Mounties had recommended a charge of failing to yield, an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act — essentially a traffic ticket.

She said the family has weighed its options, but doesn’t plan to pursue any legal remedy.

“We talked to a lawyer who asked if we wanted to spend money to go to court to sue the driver,” Phua said.

“We said no. We don’t want to go to that extent. What we had proposed is an apology. But the lawyers say that wouldn’t be possible because the driver could not admit guilt publicly. We just don’t know what else we can do.”

Phua said her parents have been asking her lately about progress in Lucy’s case.

“They don’t have the energy to pursue anything legally,” she said.

“We just want inner peace. We want an apology. I don’t know what else we could do or want in this case.”

© Kamloops This Week



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