Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for October 26, 2009

Doctor guilty of dangerous driving in woman’s death

A woman who struck and killed a pedestrian in Whitehorse in August 2008 has been convicted of dangerous driving.

By Justine Davidson on October 26, 2009 at 3:18 pm

A woman who struck and killed a pedestrian in Whitehorse in August 2008 has been convicted of dangerous driving.

Vivian Matta, 39, a medical doctor who had recently moved to the Yukon from Egypt, was found guilty last week of driving without due care and attention on Aug. 19, 2008, when she failed to stop at a crosswalk on Second Avenue and ran into a 26-year-old Alberta woman.

Becky Shank of Edmonton was in town to be the maid of honour at a friend’s wedding, the court heard, and was out sightseeing that Tuesday.

The court heard from the driver of the vehicle that first stopped for the pedestrian.

He was heading north on Second Avenue when he saw Shank walking toward him, crossing Steele Street.

At the corner, she paused and turned, clearly waiting to cross Second toward the Klondike Rib and Salmon restaurant, the witness said.

“She stopped, made eye contact, smiled, waved,” he said, then stepped into the street.

As Shank passed in front of his vehicle, the man testified, he looked in his left side mirror and saw Matta’s blue Honda CRV approaching.

When he looked forward again, Shank was stepping past the left side of his vehicle.

Matta’s vehicle struck the woman and carried her into the intersection, before Matta stepped on the brake.

Matta, a medical doctor, told the court she immediately got out of her van and rushed to the woman to see if she could help.

The woman was bleeding from her head and still had a faint pulse when the doctor checked for vital signs, she told the court.

When an ambulance arrived some minutes later, Matta asked if she could go to Whitehorse General Hospital with the woman, but was not allowed.

The court heard that three other vehicles had all stopped to let Shank pass.

Matta said she never saw the pedestrian.

Territorial Judge John Faulkner, however, found that even without seeing the actual person in the crosswalk, Matta should have stopped based on what the other vehicles around her were doing.

There was no evidence that Matta had been drinking or was otherwise impaired.

Following a police investigation, Matta was charged with dangerous driving under the Motor Vehicles Act, a summary charge which carries a maximum sentence of three months in jail.

The prosecuting lawyer suggested Matta serve one month, while her lawyer said she shouldn’t do any time behind bars.

Faulkner is scheduled to make his sentencing decision on Thursday afternoon.

The pedestrian’s name was not released to the public at the time of the incident at the request of her family.

CommentsAdd a comment

S. Morran

Oct 26, 2009 at 9:14 pm

This is a very sad case for everyone involved. After visiting Whitehorse twice in the last two years and observing how busy it is in the summertime, my conclusion is that perhaps the city should consider more traffic lights to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening.

Jessie

Oct 26, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Honestly I have Known Dr.Matta For a long time and her last thought would have been to hurt someone.. She Obviously Cared If She got out to help. Being A responsible dr. I Know her last Thought would never to hurt someone.. Alot Of people only trust her as there doctor and there for she should be charged but not put in bars. and she should be aloud to return to work. Just Because She Is a Doctor Doesnt Mean She Should be fired. She Is Just Like anyone.. if someone from superstore hit someone would they be fired. No. so there for she should not be fired regardless if she is a doctor

bobby bitman

Oct 27, 2009 at 4:40 pm

What a horrible accident for all involved.  Second Ave is a very confusing and dangerous road for drivers and pedestrians.  I called in an accident there years ago when two women were hit and thrown in exactly the same circumstance (most cars stopped, one went through).  My friend was hit on fourth, same deal.  She got up and walked away.

Whew.  I really feel for all involved.

diane

Oct 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

3 months? for a life?  She may be the best doctor in the world but not the swiftest.  If she had of been paying attention, common sense would dicate that if a car is stopped with no turn signal then maybe, just maybe, the car is stopped for something. 

angie joseph rear

Oct 28, 2009 at 4:24 pm

It is unfortunate that pedestrians take life’s risk when crossing at appropriate places in Whitehorse.  I am from out of town however I experience curteous drivers and dangerous drivers.  An elderly man was hit on 4th Ave. and luckily was not hurt.  then you have the crossing on 2nd where you hear recording, “Cross at your own risk”  Is that ridiculous or what?  Please stop when you see other vehicles stop.  They stop for a reason-for others life.

ligeuna dreessen

Oct 28, 2009 at 6:04 pm

i knew the victim personally since high school and whether i did or not….. it was SOMEONES LIFE!!!!! what is happening to this doctor is not FAIR!! at all!!!

QC

Oct 28, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Now if she’d run over a dog, the people on here would be calling for a life sentence.

josh

Oct 28, 2009 at 10:13 pm

3 months for a life..wow..wtf is this coming to..all all becuase she is a good doctor..come on..for serious ppl! i can go beat sum1 up and get more jail time than that for assault..this was MURDER! even if Matta ddnt mean to..its still murder people..it was Matta’s lack of paying attention and the LEAST she should b charged with is man-slaughter in my opinion. Dangerous Driving..what a load of crap! if she spent the time 2 look at the stoppd cars..mayb all that time in University wouldve told her 2 stop to! like really..if being a doctor lets you get away with the accidental murder of another..hell.then im gonna become a doctor to..ignore the stoppd cars..and hit someone to! now..does that seem fair? NO! why? because its NOT! and it doesnt matter that Matta will live with this the rest of her life OR that she ddnt mean it..point is…wait for it..SHE DID DO IT!..LET HER PAY THE FULL PRICE..THROW HER IN JAIL..where murders’ belong..

Yukon Girl

Oct 29, 2009 at 11:26 am

Just think….that could have been YOU who this happened too.  Would you still have the same opinion if this was you that could be serving a jail term??

Naomi

Oct 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm

I agree that maybe she should’ve notived what the other cars were doing and slowed down. We all know in the summer, how aweful it is to drive through that section…the bar strip. But maybe in the meantime, they should put up some crosswalk lights there.

diane

Oct 29, 2009 at 4:39 pm

QC—I could not have said it better.

Footprints

Oct 30, 2009 at 9:00 am

I was nearly hit one day while crossing 2nd at Steele, one more step and…

On a busy day there is typically a line of cars in the right southbound lane of 2nd Avenue backed up well past Steele when there is a red light at Main. The left lane is usually empty at Steele because one or two vehicles are signaling left at the Main intersection while the majority of drivers going straight through chose to line up in the right lane to avoid getting stuck behind the left turning vehicles.

Do we really need to have so many poorly marked cross-walks along this stretch of 2nd, and on both sides of each intersection? Many people I talk to are not even aware that these are in fact cross-walks, they are under the impression that only the intersections marked with overhead lights and signs are legal cross-walks. 

In any case, drivers are only seeing the red light at Main as being the reason for the stopped vehicles in the right lane and do not see the pedestrians in the intersection as they cruise past in the left lane. Drivers aren’t supposed to pass other vehicles when going through an intersection, but not many will follow that rule to the letter. 

Some possible solutions:
- post a no left turn sign at Main to allow for more even lane distribution along 2nd at Steele
- install overhead cross-walk lights and signs (or pedestrian activated stop lights) at key crossings only
- remove the redundant and poorly marked cross-walks that drivers don’t seem to pay much attention to and only serve to provide pedestrians with a false sense of safety.

Further suggestions or comments?


Please slow down and be careful everyone.

Candi Beauchamp

Oct 30, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Becky Shank was an amazingly bright and talented person who had her whole life a head of her.. She meant everything to her boyfriend, family and friends.  She had so much to look forward to in her life.. she had an amazing career that made a difference in people’s lives.. that has all been cut short and no matter what, and we will never get her back..

This should have never have happened, and it was completely preventable. Vivian Matta, in my opinion, should have been charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Oct 30, 2009 the sentence read Vivian Matta was charged with undue care and inattention, and received 1 month house arrest, $1,000 fine and her driver’s license was suspended for three months.

In February 25, 2009 Matta plead not guilty to driving carelessly.. I know my opinion will seem bias having known and loved Becky.. but if it was me who hit and killed someone. I would have plead guilty and I would have apologized profusely (even if it fell on deaf ears).. and I would have wanted you to charge me with whatever it was to the maximum so I could do my penitence and show that I took it seriously.. Were it I, who lied to the court, the family and witnesses that I was not guilty.. I would never be able to live with myself.

And it is also in my opinion whether she is a doctor or a sandwich artist she still is doing wrong.. apparently some people seem to forget that.. while reading a few of these comments on here. If her title as a doctor was removed would you still think the same way. I THINK not!

This is my thought for you, THINK of yourself being robbed wrongfully of a loved one (your child, your sister, your husband).. then see if it matters if the person that killed them was a doctor or not

A patient of dr. V's

Oct 31, 2009 at 8:32 am

This is a terrible tragedy…  but Josh, this wasn’t murder.
This was an accident.
I’m sure all of those who’s lives this tragedy touched will have ill feelings about the situation forever, but don’t discount the fact that the guilty party won’t either.
Doctor V has a big heart.. absolutely she should have been paying closer attention, but by no means would she have ever done something like this on purpose.. and now, she has to live knowing that because of her actions, a life has been lost.. and many others affected…  Think of the guilt she must feel.

2nd avenue is a crazy street..  the intersection where this happened is a bad one.. same with the intersections of 2nd and Elliott and 2nd & Lambert…  Dr. V is guilty of, like soooo many more Yukoners, driving without due care… They should put up more stop lights on this road… repaint the crosswalks… hell put in speed dips or something… this is a trecherous part of Whitehorse for pedestrians and drivers a-like….  At the drunks corner by the 98 hotel.. there’s a pedestrian cross light…. why isn’t there one on every corner?

Heather

Nov 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

I realize this happened in the Summertime, but how are we supposed to see the white markings on the pavement during Winter? And the barely noticable white and black signs blend in with the landscape? We need Bright colours and flashing lights.

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