British Columbia

Parents of woman killed by legally blind motorist urge families to report unsafe drivers

Theodore Levick has been sentenced to two years behind bars for criminal negligence causing the 2016 death of Meaghan Brown in Trail, B.C.

86-year-old Theodore Levick jailed for crash that killed Meaghan Brown in Trail, B.C.

Meaghan Brown died in a collision with an unlicensed driver in July 2016 in the West Kootenay city of Trail, B.C. (Paddy Brown)

An elderly driver who killed a 27-year-old B.C. woman was legally blind and had his licence revoked 15 years before the fatal 2016 crash.

And yet he was known to pull up to the drive-thru window at the Tim Hortons in Trail, B.C., at the same time every morning, according to court documents.

Now 86, Theodore Finlay Levick was sentenced last month to two years behind bars for criminal negligence causing death, and is banned for life from driving.

Meaghan Brown's grieving parents believe the sentence is a fit one for an elderly man with no previous record. But they also want people to learn from what happened to their daughter.

Court testimony makes it clear that multiple people knew Levick shouldn't be driving, Sue and Paddy Brown point out, and yet someone let him use their car.

"If you know somebody who's driving without a licence, that is doing something that can potentially just destroy a family — you need to stand up and do something about it," Sue Brown told CBC News.

"Especially with all the seniors that are on the road right now, if you know your parents shouldn't be driving, you need to do something."

Meaghan Brown was 27 years old when she died. (Meaghan Brown/Facebook)

Meaghan Brown was riding her motorcycle to her new job at Teck Metals on July 25, 2016, the day of the crash. It wasn't quite 6 a.m., but the sun was up and the weather was clear and dry, according to a B.C. Supreme Court judgment.

Brown had just passed a slower driver on Highway 3B, near Trail, when Levick suddenly cut in front of her to make a slow left turn across traffic in a 2014 Subaru Forester.

"There was no opportunity for the motorcycle to avoid a collision, and it crashed into that vehicle," Justice Michael Tammen said when he found Levick guilty in March.

Brown was pronounced dead at the scene. It was two days before her 28th birthday.

'Reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others'

Levick told police and bystanders that he never saw the motorcycle coming. Investigators would later discover his driver's licence had been cancelled in 2001 after an optometrist found he was medically unfit to drive.

Levick has diabetes and an associated condition called diabetic retinopathy that can lead to blindness. An ophthalmologist testified that Levick had been legally blind for years at the time of the crash.

The court also heard that staff at the ophthalmologist's office had alerted Levick's doctor in 2011 that Levick was still driving and he warned his patient to stop.

"Nonetheless, with full knowledge of his extreme visual impairment and the attendant risks, the accused chose to drive. The mere act of setting out behind the wheel … would constitute reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others," Tammen wrote in his decision to convict Levick.

Meaghan Brown, centre, is shown as a child in a family photo with her parents Paddy and Sue and her older sister, Sarah. (Paddy Brown)

Brown's father believes the fatal crash would never have happened if the people in Levick's life had reported him to the police. Court records do not reveal whose car Levick was driving.

"People don't want to report a member of their family or somebody that they know because it's taking away their independence and their freedom … but they're putting people's lives in danger," Paddy Brown said.

Three years after the tragic crash, the Browns can't escape their sorrow over losing their youngest of two daughters.

Meaghan Brown loved motorcycles and tattoos, and was stepmother to a little girl who shared her first name, her parents said. She was learning how to drive a big rig, and was excited about her future at the new job.

"I used to talk to her every single day. We were just the best of friends. This driver took away my past, my present and my future with my daughter, and it's been heartbreaking — absolutely heartbreaking," Sue Brown said.

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay has more than a decade of experience in B.C. journalism, with a focus on the courts, health and social justice issues. She has also reported on human rights and crimes against humanity in Cambodia. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

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