GUEST COLUMN: Letter from a mother to a hit-and-run driver

Lila Hope-Simpson
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Lila Hope-Simpson.

Letter from a mother to a hit-and-run driver

Once, when my husband and I were driving along Highway 14, we spotted a turtle in the middle of the road. We pulled over and Ian gently picked up the turtle and carried him to a pond on a nearby farm. When I hit a low flying robin with my car one day, I drove back to check and see if it was okay and still breathing before driving off. To think an individual would drive a vehicle into my daughter, pinning her against an adjacent car and then leave her severely injured and alone lying on the ground, is incomprehensible to me.

 I don't know you and you don't know me, but you have affected the lives of every member of our family enormously. After you fled, my daughter called out for help and was surrounded by caring people who contacted my husband and placed a 911 call for police and ambulance.

Since that night, she has had eight surgeries and has been hospitalized for over a month, and that is just the beginning of our long road to recovery. A few weeks ago, a reporter asked me what I would say to the assailant if I could speak directly with that person. I reflected for a moment and then shook my head blankly and said, "There are no words."

Now, some time has passed and I do have a few things I would like to say to you. You and I actually have more in common than you might think. We both have had major life altering decisions to make. Mine were medical choices that would affect my daughter's life. Your decision was based on whether to run away or offer assistance. Making choices is not easy for anyone, but I like to think weighing the consequences of one's actions plays a role in making those significant decisions. While you are at home sleeping at night, my daughter is woken up repeatedly in the hospital every night for blood work, IVs, pain medications, injections, vitals and nerve block checks. It's hard to get a good night's sleep in a hospital setting; I know because I have been sleeping in her room for over a month now.

You may take walking for granted, but we don't. It will be awhile until my girl can walk again, and never unaided. Has your life been turned upside-down? Our lives have. Things that used to be important to us are not any more, and things were not that important before, are more important now.

Neither my husband nor I have worked since the accident. We don't have time; we're too busy for now learning the ropes.

For many years, I wrote the Positive Parenting column for the newspaper and, although I confidently covered many topics relating to parenting, I never wrote about how to cope after a hit-and-run incident. This is all new territory for me. It feels like I have been dropped into a foreign country where I don't speak the language, I am not familiar with the culture, I have never eaten the food and I don't know the geography or road maps. I am kind of lost in this new territory, but experiential learning is teaching me to cope and I am slowly inching forward.

My daughter has risen far above this event. This incident does not define her. She is positive and beautiful. She is motivated and I am confident that she will do great things with her life. We are grateful that she is alive and thriving.

We have learned that, even though there was one person who committed an unspeakable act of cowardice, there are a thousand people who have proven to us that humankind is good. Anne Frank wrote in The Diary of a Young Girl, "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." Although you chose to flee and hide, our friends and community have stood by us and supported us with compassion, love, kindness, music, art, wholesome meals, funds, yarn, caring and generosity of spirit.

Read about community efforts to help Tasha Hope-Simpson here.

 Most people prefer that justice be done. My daughter has become every mother's daughter and that is why everyone genuinely cares so much.

My only prayer was wishing that it could be me instead of her lying in that hospital bed. I have shed many tears. So many tears that sometimes it feels like there are none left to weep.

Even though it was my daughter who was hit that night, I, too, have felt broken and shattered. But there has been laughter and peace too. We have learned how to embrace what we have and each other, and appreciate the world around us.

Tell me, do you ever think about that night? Does it affect your dreams? Do you wonder about the girl you hit and how she might be doing? Or is it easy for you to carry on and buy groceries and watch TV and go for coffee like everything is normal?

As a teacher, I always taught my preschoolers that there are consequences to actions. I taught them to take responsibility for their behaviour. I would urge you to take responsibility for your actions that night. Don't be afraid. Come forward. Somebody knows. Do the right thing and tell someone. Call the New Minas detachment of the RCMP and help them wrap up their investigation, 679-5555, or contact Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers, 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), for a cash reward.

Read more about the investigation here.

I know I'm supposed to feel better if I forgive you, but the truth is, sometimes I still feel angry that you caused so much pain. For now, I will go back and be there for my daughter and family, and I trust that the world is a kind and nurturing place. My daughter has taught me to find peace and with her courage and the support of friends and community. I am gradually learning to do so.

Knowing who you are would provide some closure for us. And you know what? I urge you to do this for yourself as well. After all, if we can look out for a turtle or a robin, it's not too late for you step up to the plate for one innocent girl.

Organizations: RCMP

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Recent comments

  • Lila Hope-Simpson
    February 09, 2014 - 10:34

    Thank you for all the kind and heartfelt comments to my article- your thoughts, prayers and support have gone a long way towards our healing.

  • wendy Gavel Lutz
    December 10, 2013 - 19:17

    Hi Lila, this broke my heart to here that this happened. I feel your pain,hurt,and compassion all in one. I wish I could help you find this selfish person. As a mother of two beautiful girls........I know, all you want is your daughter to be able to be OKAY . You want to do what ever it takes to make it OKAY. My Prayers are with you and your whole family. Prayer's to heal inward as well as outward. Lila, you taught me "LIFE SKILLS" in my Personal Care Worker's Course. With Fiona Lilly . I also looked after your Farther in-law at Evergreen Nursing Home Kentville. Luv and take care !!!!

  • wendy Gavel Lutz
    December 10, 2013 - 19:16

    Hi Lila, this broke my heart to here that this happened. I feel your pain,hurt,and compassion all in one. I wish I could help you find this selfish person. As a mother of two beautiful girls........I know, all you want is your daughter to be able to be OKAY . You want to do what ever it takes to make it OKAY. My Prayers are with you and your whole family. Prayer's to heal inward as well as outward. Lila, you taught me "LIFE SKILLS" in my Personal Care Worker's Course. With Fiona Lilly . I also looked after your Farther in-law at Evergreen Nursing Home Kentville. Luv and take care !!!!

  • Joanne Light
    December 10, 2013 - 18:27

    Dear Lila and family, My thoughts are with you at this moment in your very difficult time. As an empath I feel your pain very deeply and your fine writing describes with imagery so clearly how you have been catapulted into another reality and what that entails: a devastating trauma for Tasha, you and all of your family. I can't help but remember so many years ago when you published in the "Blue SKy Journal" my poem, "North Mountain Night" about my witnessing to my feelings about the terrible accident in N.B. which killed Terry and Jeannie Fuller and their daughter. The power of the word is front and centre as it connects your experience right now with everyone who reads it, including perhaps the guilty person. The terror he or she must feel is hard to imagine but I did envision it one night a few years back in a nightmare where I dreamt I was keeping a secret about something very terrible I had done. The fear I felt during the nightmare was alien to anything else I have ever felt. I later learned someone very close to me had been deceiving me. I had taken in their psychic energy and it was revealed in my unconscious as a dream of this nature. What has happened in your family may involve someone who has possibly not ever been identified as a criminal before but who has now committed a crime. If she/he is reading this, know that you will only be able to live a full, satisfying life if you face this and come forward. You are in the bondage of the lie now. If you face this, you can begin to move forward in your own healing. You can honestly face the consequences of this most tragic act and begin to put your life back together. If you don't you will never have a moment's peace or freedom. Do it now before you have damaged yourself more in your deception. Lila, I know you are a wise woman who will stay where your hands are and just do the next right thing in good orderly direction putting emotional and spiritual self care first and foremost. And, of course, this is what the person who ran away must do as well by turning him/her self in to the police.

  • Helen mac Kinnon
    December 10, 2013 - 13:44

    Hi,,,,just read your letter and I am so sorry for what happened to your daughter, sure hope she is doing well . You sure do have more courage then most people to sit and write this comment and I commend you on that. just wondering if I could feel the same way , That driver doesn't have any feeling to something like that and not come forward with it , They are such cowards but know that some day they will have to answer for it , but hopefully someday time some day it will all come out and maybe then they will know what you are going through. May God bless all of you and hope you all have a Merry Christmas and A Very Happy New Year and things will get much better .

  • Erin Schurman
    December 10, 2013 - 07:51

    Blessings to you and your family. You have all been through so much and make such a great example for others. Your daughters strength is admirable. Just a thought...the driver may not have run maliciously but may not have been aware they he/she struck someone. I used to think this was not possible (how could someone possibly NOT know when they have hit something/someone with their car) until I was struck and the young lady driving had no clue. Literally...NO CLUE. Now, please do not misunderstand by thinking that unknowing would make this forgivable. Either way, whether it was malicious or ignorant, the driver should no longer be behind the wheel. They are danger to themselves and others. Stay strong and together. Keep being an example. Love much and have a very Merry Christmas.

  • Anna
    December 09, 2013 - 22:37

    I do not know you or your family but I think of your daughter and what happened often. Whenever I find myself complaining or stressing over life's smallest things I think of her and her story and remember to be thankful everyday. Stay strong!

  • Karen Gray
    December 09, 2013 - 21:22

    As a mother I can only imagine...thank-you for sharing, so well put. Your daughter is beautiful inside and out. Whoever did this, please make the right choice now and come forward!

  • Sheila Goldsmith
    December 09, 2013 - 19:58

    Thank you for sharing this. I am sending prayers for you daughter and her family.As for the driver , what can I say !I certainly hope he is not a father or never becomes one for that matter, and if he is any kind of a man then he should and would definitely come forward. I am sure he is and should be losing sleep over this very cruel cruel act.Be a man and come forward!

  • Barb Haggerty
    December 09, 2013 - 17:36

    You do not know me nor do I know you, but I would hope whoever did this to your daughter would come forward. If it is someone with children of there own would they want the same thing to happen to them, I hope not. Have the guts to come forward for this family.

  • Crystal Taylor-Beals
    December 09, 2013 - 15:47

    This story sends goosebumps down my spine. How could anyone hit and pin an innocent person, then drive off with no concern at all. I am so appalled at the actions some people do. It is actually unbelievable, how can someone live with themselves knowing they did this? Hurting another human being because of their carelessness, and not caring the hurt this person must endure. If that was your Family or partner would you not be disgusted how it happened to them? Then come forward, tell your story and help this Family move on, they still have an unending to this story and that is you!!!

  • Eleanor Beaton
    December 09, 2013 - 14:10

    Well said, Lila. My thoughts are with you, Tasha and the rest of your family.

  • Debby Leinwand
    December 09, 2013 - 12:48

    You don't know me. We happen to share a very dear friend, Karen Harrison, who told me the day your Tasha was hit. I have 2 daughters the same age as Karen's 2 boys, and perhaps this is why it is inconceivable, the pain that you and your family are going through. Continue to find strength in each other and in that silver lining that Tasha seems to be creating in the cloud of pain that she has to endure.

  • Kay Lewis
    December 09, 2013 - 12:08

    I'm so sorry for what has happened to your daughter and to your whole family. The support you are getting is tremendous. This is a beautiful letter and I hope the person responsible, or someone who knows who it is, steps up and accepts responsibility. Kay and Vitaly