Greyhound pays $450 to couple who witnessed killing
Greyhound Canada paid for six counselling sessions and gave $450 in compensation to a young Manitoba couple who were first-hand witnesses to a decapitation on a passenger bus last summer.
Stephen Allison and his wife, Isabelle, were sitting opposite Vince Li and Tim McLean on Greyhound bus No. 1170 near Portage La Prairie, Man., on July 30, 2008, when Li pulled a knife and killed McLean.
"Seeing that is not something you get over very quickly," Stephen Allison, 20, said Wednesday. "It's made me a shell of my former self. I'm trying to get back to normal but it's hard."
He still recalls vividly the events of that night, as the couple were on the bus having left their home in the Northwest Territories to move to Winnipeg.
"I ran to stop the bus for people to get off," Allison said. "We all started getting off, and then I looked back and realized my wife hadn't gotten up because Tim had jumped over Mr. Li and was on the floor. She was sitting right beside what was happening. She couldn't even move — she was paralyzed with fear."
The couple said the event has changed their lives, probably forever.
Stephen Allison was a straight-A student. Now, he said, he can barely get to class.
Isabelle Allison is working part-time and not going to school at all. She's taking anti-depressants.
The couple have been following Li's trial, but not from the courtroom. Allison said he couldn't bear to see Li in person again.
Both said they've lost their trust in strangers.
"It's been very difficult for us.… We were in the wrong place at the wrong time," Stephan Allison said.
Lawyers are preparing a lawsuit against Li, Greyhound, the Canadian government and the RCMP on behalf of all passengers on Greyhound 1170 in an effort to win compensation for their emotional suffering.
"I would like some [more] paid-for counselling," Allison said, adding that Greyhound paid for six trauma-counselling sessions for the couple but he and his wife could not afford to pay for further therapy. The young couple were also compensated about $450 for the loss of their belongings.
Li pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. A judge in Winnipeg found Thursday that Li was not criminally responsible for the killing. Both the Crown and defence agreed that Li was suffering from a mental illness.
The ruling means he will be sent to a provincial psychiatric facility and it will be up to the Manitoba review board to determine whether he's released and when.
Stephen Allison said authorities should ensure Li is never in a position to harm anyone again.
"I think he should go away for a very long time. Even if he does believe it was something beyond his control, he still allowed it to happen, he still did it," Allison said. "You've got to pay for what you do. You can't take a life and expect to have nothing bad happen to you."
Greyhound spokeswoman Amy Wambaugh said the company has done everything it can with the resources available and that there was no way the events that unfolded on that bus could have been predicted.
"I would encourage these individuals to contact their case managers and that would be the best venue for them to continue to get further help if that's what they're looking for," she said.