Samantha Wylie’s family are wondering why an accused impaired driver was quickly released without bail after a fatal collision.
Her children and their spouses say justice has failed and are encouraging people to reach out to MPs to speak out to prevent this from happening to others.
“Tell them what’s going on on that freeway,” said Haley, Samantha’s daughter. “Tell them what’s going on in the justice system, because we can’t continue this capture and release program because someone else is going to get hurt, and someone else is going to see their family torn apart like my family. You know, she got out of jail before she could even celebrate life.”
Samantha Wylie, 53, a highly decorated retired army veteran, will never see her first grandchild after her motorbike was hit head-on by an SUV on the freeway. 1A, near Morley Rd on August 19.
Kendra Bigstony, 33, of Morley, faces multiple charges following the fatal collision. Four of them are accused of being intoxicated, and she allegedly drove while her license was suspended and did not remain at the scene of the accident.
She was held overnight in police custody and less than 24 hours later was released by a justice of the peace the next day without bail.
Haley lives in Kelowna and was visiting her mother and her partner Elmo Nanemahoo in Caroline, Alberta when the crash happened. Samantha and Elmo were returning from Canmore at this time.
Haley couldn’t face the world after receiving the shocking news.
“For the first two days, I didn’t leave the house,” says Haley. “I didn’t eat, I just lay there. I couldn’t face the world.”
“When I found out she was [the accused] released, my sadness and grief turned to pure anger and all I wanted was to do justice to what had happened to my mother. She killed our family patriarch, and she was my best friend. She is very close to all of us. I’m absolutely sorry that our justice system can do this.”
“The fact that this person would have committed other offenses of the same nature against him and that they just let him out to go back to the streets, drink again and hurt another family. I know we can’t bring my mother back, I want to, but I can’t, but if I could save one person, if I could ease the pain of a family, that’s my goal, because it’s not fair.”
Adding to the heartache is knowing that Samantha will never meet her first grandchild. Haley and her partner Tyler are expecting their first child in a few weeks.
Elmo was the lead bike when the black SUV suddenly crossed the yellow line and was heading towards him. He immediately headed for the ditch, as there is no shoulder on this section of the highway.
“I kept going into the ditch and, remarkably, stood for a while before getting back on the highway. I knew something had happened and turned around to come back. When I arrived, the bike was on its side in the middle of the road, and that was it.”
On May 1, 2019, Samantha retired as a Master Warrant Officer after 32 years of service in the military.
She was a highly decorated officer who had served our country on multiple tours in Afghanistan, the Gulf War, Kuwait, Iraq, Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey and Israel.
Her son Eric describes her as a pioneer.
“She was in there at a time when women weren’t respected, and they weren’t treated as equals,” he says. “She paved the way for more than enough women in the military.”
Samantha and Elmo Nanemahoo had just purchased their dream land in Caroline and were embarking on the next phase of their lives together. Samantha had started a new career in holistic healing.
Family members say they were told by the RCMP that it is rare for a repeat offender with such a level of charge to be released over the weekend by a justice of the peace.
The family is hosting a private celebration of Samantha’s life this Saturday in Caroline.
They will return to Cochrane when Bigstony appears in Cochrane Provincial Court on August 30.