Calgary

Calgary resident Adrien Gottli, hit by reversing SUV driver while walking, dies in hospital

Laszlo Gottli says he isn't angry anymore but he still has questions about how the driver who ran over his wife, tearing off part of her ear and crushing her eye socket, could have done so much damage while simply backing out of a driveway across a public sidewalk.

'She had tire marks on her face and her whole face was broken,' says husband, who hopes for answers in case

Husband recounts wife's 'horrendously sad' death

CBC News Calgary

5 years ago
0:36
Calgary resident Adrien Gottli died in hospital after being hit by an SUV backing out of a driveway across a public sidewalk. 0:36

Laszlo Gottli says he isn't angry anymore but he still has questions about how the driver who ran over his wife's head, tearing off part of her ear and crushing her eye socket, could have done so much damage while simply backing out of a driveway across a public sidewalk.

"I don't understand how the hell she could have been hit that badly," he told CBC News. "That's the million-dollar question."

Adrien Gottli, 56, was walking the family dog on July 28 in Calgary's Hawkwood community — a daily routine that she loved, her husband said — when she was hit and critically injured by the reversing SUV driver, according to police.

She spent the next 11 days in hospital with a severe brain injury and, for a while, the family held out hope that she might recover.

But when it became clear she wouldn't, the decision was made to take her off life support.

"That's what she would have wanted," Laszlo said.

"Adrien and I had already had this conversation quite some time ago. If either of us were injured or had an accident where we were no longer there, to keep the body alive is not the way we wanted to be."

Adrien died on Monday and hundreds attended her funeral on Thursday.

Adrien Gottli had three children and six grandchildren. Her husband said she lived for her family and matched the youthful energy of her grandkids. (Submitted by Laszlo Gottli)

Laszlo said what he will remember most about his wife of 39 years was "her love and her vibrancy" and how she lived for her family.

Adrien had three children, all adults now, and six grandchildren.

"She was just such a lively person," Laszlo said.

"I suspect she would have lived to exceed 100 years, because that's within the genes in her family. She was very fit. She exercised, taking the dog out two or three times a day. She did yoga. She was a vegetarian and watched what she ate."

Charges pending

Police said Friday charges are pending against the driver but wouldn't specify whether those would come under the federal criminal code or provincial statutes such as Alberta's Traffic Safety Act.

Laszlo said the driver is 69 years old and he recognizes she's unlikely to face criminal charges.

In other cases where a driver has backed into and killed a pedestrian, charges of unsafe backing have been filed under provincial law. Penalties can include a fine of up to $2,000, six months in jail and a three-month driving suspension.

Laszlo said he would like to have his day in court to relate the impact the collision has had on his family, but he doesn't believe the driver should be behind bars.

"Do I really want to see her in jail? Not really. Do I want them to probably revoke her licence? One-hundred per cent, yes," he said.

"In the beginning, I was horrendously angry … but eventually we all came to terms with it. I don't think we've quite forgiven her, but we wouldn't want to be in her shoes, to live the rest of her life knowing she killed somebody."

'More questions than answers'

At this point, Laszlo said the family continues to have "more questions than answers" and hopes to resolve how the collision could have happened.

"My concern is: Should this woman be driving? When she hit Adrien, apparently there were two hand marks across her car. Why didn't she stop? Why did she continue on?" Laszlo said.

"It appears that she drove over her head because she had tire marks on her face and her whole face was broken. It was just all fractured. ... Her right ear was torn half off. She was in very, very rough shape."

Adrien Gottli was in the former Czechoslovakia (in modern day Slovakia) and came to Canada in 1968. She lived in Winnipeg and later Calgary. (Submitted by Laszlo Gottli)

While waiting for answers, the family is trying to heal.

"After the funeral, we came home and we picked all our roses (from the family garden) and we went up to the site and we prayed," Laszlo said.

"They must have used a chemical to get rid of the blood — you can see the chemical streaks on the road — so we left the rose petals all along the road."

He also had one request if people are discussing the fatal crash: Don't call it an accident.

"An accident, to me, means you have no control," he said.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is a totally preventable incident."

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