The family of Ashley Richards is starting to move past their grief as the driver who hit and killed her in an orange zone waits for a sentence on the conviction of dangerous driving.
On Tuesday, Keith Dunford was found guilty of dangerous driving causing death, but not guilty of criminal negligence.
Thomas and Brenda Richards learned about the verdict by phone. He says they couldn’t afford to make the long trip to Saskatchewan from New Brunswick for the trial and it has been difficult to follow from so far away. After three years, he says they’re happy the trial is over.
“Time heals, but my wife still gets upset sometimes,” Thomas Richards explained.
The couple adopted Ashley when she was a kid and he describes her as a happy girl who loved art. But he says she rebelled as a teenager and left home.
Richards says his wife has forgiven Keith Dunford in a message posted on Facebook and it really doesn’t matter what kind of sentence he gets.
“Mr. Dunford, he’s going to have to live with this the rest of his life,” he said. “Two years in jail is not going to make much difference I’m sure for him because he’ll have to live with it.”
Richards says it helps to know that the Saskatchewan government changed the laws for speeding in orange zones after their daughter’s death.
“It helps, it takes away some of the pain, but again, you can’t replace a daughter,” he said. “As long as it helps somebody else, we’re good with that.”
Judge Lana Krogan read the decision in Weyburn Provincial Court, saying that Dunford showed more than a momentary lapse because he hadn’t been paying attention to the road for 13 kilomtres before hitting the 18-year-old flag worker at a speed of 80 or 90 km/hour in a 60 km/h zone.
In response, Richards says he hopes drivers remember to pay more attention to the rules, because they are there for a reason – to keep people like his daughter safe.