North

Family of young mother who died attends bail hearing of man charged for fatal Behchoko crash

Steven Theriault evaded police for more than a month before he was caught in Edmonton and returned to the N.W.T. where he faces several charges related to an April 22 car crash near Behchokǫ̀.

Florriane Rabesca, 21, was killed on April 22 in a crash on Highway 3 near Behchokǫ̀

Tony Rabesca was joined by family Thursday in Yellowknife for the bail hearing of the man alleged to have been driving when his daughter Florriane was killed in a car crash on April 22. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

Steven Theriault was arrested in Edmonton on June 2. It was 41 days after he allegedly fled the scene of a fatal accident near Behchokǫ̀, N.W.T.

He was returned to the Northwest Territories where police say he is the driver of the vehicle that crashed on Highway 3, killing a young woman from the community and injuring two others on April 22.

Florriane Rabesca was 21 when she was killed. She was the mother of a five-year-old boy.

Theriault, 44 at the time of his arrest, appeared by camera in a Yellowknife courtroom Thursday for a bail hearing. Florriane's father, Tony Rabesca, was there with family.

"My daughter was very sweet and very kind and she's very warm and she likes to smile and she was always willing to help people," Tony said outside the courthouse.

"It's very emotional to hear and understand what's happening," he said. "We wanted to be here, to make sure."

Theriault is charged with two counts of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm and one count of dangerous operation causing death. He is also charged with operating a vehicle without a driver's licence and failure to stop after an accident causing bodily harm and death.

Thursday's bail hearing was one of the first court proceedings where the public has been allowed to enter the courtroom since COVID-19 restrictions were introduced. But with some COVID-19 restrictions still in place, several family members were kept out at the start of the proceedings.

Some relatives stayed in the foyer and pressed their ears to the courtroom door to listen. The bail hearing was eventually moved to another courtroom.

There is a publication ban on anything discussed during the bail hearing, which was held by a justice of the peace. The proposed bail conditions for Theriault will be reviewed, and a decision is expected to be delivered on Tuesday. 

Highway 3 between Yellowknife and Fort Providence in March 2018. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Community support for family

Florriane's aunt, Phoebe Rabesca says the community has been there for her brother.

"Florriane was just such a beautiful person," said Phoebe Rabesca, her aunt. "Her parents loved her so much and she loved her parents so much." 

Phoebe said Florriane had many friends and youth in the community were "struck and shocked" by her death.

She said the community has pulled together to support Tony.

"They really supported him and they were really there for him during that really tragic and really difficult time that they were going through," she said.

"The loss and the pain, and the grief is still there and they're dealing with it every day." 

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