'Joyful' and 'wise' eight-year-old who died in crash remembered
LONDON, ONT. -- Family and friends gathered in north London, Ont. on Monday to lay eight-year old Nihal Toor to rest.
Nihal, who lives in Virginia where her father works as a diplomat, was visiting her grandparents in London, Ont.
She was killed late Friday night in a collision at the corner of Hickory Drive and Egremont Drive just outside of Strathroy, Ont.
"She was a joyful, free-spirited girl who loved travelling, singing and dancing," says Pam Bains, her great aunt.
Bains says that Nihal's 70-year-old grandmother was injured and is in Strathroy-Middlesex General Hospital, while her mother suffered fractures and her sister sustained minor injuries.
As a result of the investigation, police have now charged Alicia Van Bree of Strathroy, Ont. with operation while impaired and operation causing death.
"The last two weeks we've had four major collisions, we've had four people who have lost their lives ranging from eight to 60," says Const. Kevin Howe of the Middlesex OPP.
"I cannot express frustration about something that seems so common sense."
Van Bree has been released from police custody and is scheduled to appear in a London courtroom on Sept. 10 to speak to the charges.
Her release doesn't sit well with members of the public, but criminal lawyer Nick Cake says although he isn't counsel for the accused, he's sure there are reasonable conditions for release.
"This is an incredibly tragic situation for everyone involved and I’m not trying to downplay that, but the accused in this matter has the right to reasonable bail," says Cake.
"She is free until her court date in September because she lives in Canada and the charter guarantees that right to be free."
MADD Canada says it's often difficult for families and the public to understand how someone who is accused of a serious crime like causing death, can then be released.
"It's something we hear a lot from families and we try to prepare them for it," says Steve Sullivan, director of victim services for MADD Canada.
Sullivan says sentences for convicted drunk drivers typically range from four to six years, and could be higher depending on other factors in the crash.
"That number is up from years ago when people used to get two to three years," says Sullivan.
"Many families would say those numbers aren't high enough, but we have seen the courts take impaired driving more seriously."
Bains says Monday was extremely difficult for the family but they held a beautiful service to remember the young girl.
"She was wise beyond her years," says Bains.