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Westbank Lions to honour fallen volunteer
Members of the Westbank Lions Club will gather at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25, to honour Stew Tuningley.
Tuningley died in July while voluntarily taking part in an Adopt-A-Highway cleanup of Shannon Lake Road.
While Tuningley was serving his community, a vehicle veered off the right-hand side of the road and struck him.
The Westbank Lions Club is inviting family, friends and interested members of the public to meet together near the site of Tuningley’s death to remember him.
A few people are set to speak at the gathering. However, Linda Hart, president of the Westbank Lions Club, said that members of the public are more than welcome to share a few words about Stew as well.
Speakers will share reminiscences of Tuningley and express their support for increased driver awareness and accountability, as well as meaningful reform to provincial laws regarding fatal accident compensation.
There will be discussion how passage of a proposed Wrongful Death Act for B.C. could promote greater accountability from wrongdoers in similar cases.
“The law in B.C. currently is that, generally speaking, it’s a whole lot cheaper to kill someone rather than injure them,” said West Kelowna lawyer Paul Hergott.
“I’m not talking about the criminal law, I’m talking about the civil law. If someone is negligent in a car crash and runs someone over, if the (victim) is injured, that person has a claim against the wrongful party for any losses that are suffered as a result of the injury.
“On killing someone, the only claim that can be made is by a surviving spouse, child or parent. And that claim is only to the extent that there are financial losses.”
Hergott said that Tuningley’s death illustrates why there needs to be a change in the legislation.
“There couldn’t be a more perfect example. We’ve got a 74-year-old fellow, serving the community in such a wonderful way,” Hergott said.
“He’s not earning income, so there’s no claim for his death aside from funeral expenses.”
According to Hergott, in order for the Wrongful Death Act proposal to get anywhere, there needs to be a political will.
“This event hopefully will drive enough public attention to the issue to make it so that politicians see it as an issue that needs to be brought to the forefront.”
The gathering to honour Stew will be held near the entrance to the Crystal Springs mobile home park at 1850 Shannon Lake Rd. in West Kelowna.
Hart said that RCMP will be present to ensure that the road is safe for those who want to attend.
According to Hart, the tragic death of Tuningley has affected some of the Lions’ willingness to participate in roadside cleanup projects.
“Out Westbank Lioness Club has declined to continue with their Adopt-A-Highway participation,” said Hart.
“A lot of members are reluctant to go out and do the cleanup now. Whether or not we will make a formal decision to withdraw from the program has not yet been determined.”