This incident happened earlier this past week. The "young girl" in question jumped to commit suicide from the Royal Oak Drive overpass onto the highway. She was subsequently struck by two cars. Here is the story of one of those drivers:

ICBC ruling makes a horrific driving experience worse

Jack Knox Times Colonist Saturday, March 26, 2005

As if people aren't angry enough with ICBC, consider this: A 20-year-old Sidney woman faces a big insurance bill after driving into the body of a teenage suicide on the Pat Bat Highway.

After going through what may be the most horrific experience of her life this week, Cherisse Du Preez was stunned to be told she was on the hook for a $300 deductible, would lose her safe-driver's discount and wouldn't be provided with a rental car while hers was out of use.

A tough blow for the recent arrival from South Africa, all alone in Canada save for the 16-year-old brother she is working to support.

"The accident was bad, but dealing with the aftermath is worse," Du Preez said.

After getting a call from the newspaper, ICBC backed off somewhat, waiving the premium increase and providing a car for a few days, but Du Preez is still upset by her encounter with the insurance corporation.

It was on Tuesday night that a 19-year-old woman fell to her death from the Royal Oak overpass in an apparent suicide. Her body was struck by two vehicles, the second driven by Du Preez, whose brother was in the passenger seat. He screamed, but there was nothing Cherisse could do to avoid the impact.

"There were cars to the side of us and I couldn't swerve," she says. Imagine how she feels.

It was a terrible scene, deeply disturbing even to veteran Saanich police officers long used to confronting tragedy. Cherisse spent two hours at the roadside with them, says they treated her kindly. They towed her damaged Subaru as part of their investigation. The car can't be repaired until they release it, Tuesday at the earliest.

It was the next day that Du Preez encountered the bureaucracy of ICBC, where after a certain amount of consultation with the rulebook it was determined the incident fell under her collision policy. With no other vehicle involved, she would pay the deductible and face a hefty premium hike. On a couple of occasions the adjuster "shook the textbook at us" to explain the decision, she said.

The episode upset the already-distraught Du Preez. Her brother was left shaken by what happened Tuesday night, then rocked by ICBC's decision, she says. "He can't understand how we could slip through the cracks like this."

Her brother is a student at Parkland, the family having decided he would be better off in Canada. Cherisse, who came here from Durban, South Africa, a few months ago, supports him by working at the Mineral World & Scratch Patch in Sidney. Their father is dead, their mother does clerical work back home.

They don't have a lot of money to spare. Brother and sister had been saving for a Hawaiian holiday, but Cherisse says that's now in doubt.

Late Thursday, ICBC media relations advisor Doug Henderson said the corporation had re-examined the case. "We've waived any kind of a premium increase and provided a rental vehicle and some payment for counselling," he said. Du Preez will still have to pay the $300 deductible.

That's an improvement, but why should ICBC have had to have been goaded into taking the extra step? Why does its policy manual allow for so little compassion toward people left reeling by terrible, traumatizing situations not of their doing? This is not the first time this story has been written; Jody Paterson wrote about an almost-identical case on the Malahat five years ago.

At the same time Du Preez was trying to get her life back together this week -- when asked how she's doing, she replies "not too good" -- word came out that 750 senior ICBC managers and executives will split $10 million in "incentive pay" this year. Some are getting bonuses of up to $64,000 after the insurance agency enjoyed its most profitable year ever, clearing $389 million in 2004.

It kind of takes you back to 1973, when the provincial government created ICBC as a reaction to what was seen as a high-handed private insurance industry. Somehow, it seems unlikely Cherisse Du Preez's story is what they had in mind.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005