Woman feels family let down by justice system

Diane
Diane Crocker
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CORNER BROOK — Savannah Parsons wants to know why her family wasn’t informed that the man responsible for her brother’s death is now living in a halfway house in Stephenville.

Parsons is originally from Port aux Basques. On Sept. 18, 2011 her brother Devin drowned after the van in which he was a passenger went off the Trans-Canada Highway near Cape Ray and landed in a pond.

Tyler Hodder, also of Port aux Basques, was driving the van that day and on May 8, 2012 was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Parson’s brother Kevin was also in the van and suffered injuries as a result of the accident.

Devin Parsons was 20 years old when he died. His birthday was just two weeks before the accident.

On the day he was sentenced, Parsons said her family were told Hodder wouldn’t serve the full 30 months and would be released around Dec. 23, 2013.

That date gave the family some comfort. Parsons said it meant they would not have to worry about running into Hodder for some time.

But on Christmas Day, Parsons, who lives in Corner Brook, went on Facebook to wish family and friends in Port aux Basques a Merry Christmas and was shocked to see a posting from Hodder: a picture showing his new living accommodations with the caption, “My new condo for 180 days (6 mths).”

From that and other postings, Parsons figured out that Hodder is now living at a halfway house in Stephenville.

She’s upset that her family received no notification of Hodder’s move, and feels they should have been notified.

“We could have prepared ourselves,” she said. “I just feel like the justice system let us down.”

Parsons has made calls to legal aid and to victim services, trying to find out why Hodder was moved to a halfway house and why they weren’t informed, but hasn’t had any luck.

If not for Facebook, the family wouldn’t even have known.

“I wanted to keep him on there just to see if he ever posted anything,” she said of her reasons for keeping Hodder as a “friend.”

“I find he’s living his life every day as if he did nothing wrong and nothing ever happened. I don’t see where he’s learned anything. He went away the eighth of May, and Christmas Day he was having a normal Christmas basically.”

Going to hockey games

She said Hodder’s Facebook postings include plans to go to hockey games, getting a job and getting dental work done.

Parsons said Devin’s death has been hard on her whole family. She lost time from school dealing with Devin’s affairs and tries to keep her parents, Elizabeth and John (Jackie) Parsons, together emotionally.

“Now I could run into (Hodder) anywhere,” she said. “I know it doesn’t sound very fair for me, but I just wanted his parents to feel some of what my parents feel.”

While his parents woke up Christmas morning without Hodder there, they would know he’d be back the next year.

“Mom and dad have to wake up every Christmas,” she said her voice trailing off for a moment. “There’s always a gloominess over the house. There’s always something missing. And now my mom is basically back to square one because nobody called to tell her.”

She said all her mother wanted for Devin was justice, and what bit they got has now been lost.

She’s also concerned about how Hodder’s release could affect Kevin, who is still traumatized by the accident and attends counselling in Stephenville. The thought that he could have, or will run into Hodder, worries her.

“Kevin tried to save Devin, but he couldn’t save him and he holds this over him all the time. I know we both lost a brother, but I never compare the two. He lost his best friend,” Parsons said. “Devin was just an awesome person. He’s missed by so many. A lot of people said he was a young person with an old person’s soul because he helped everybody.”

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Port aux Basques, Stephenville.Parsons, Cape Ray Corner Brook Stephenville.She Stephenville

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  • jon
    January 10, 2013 - 06:41

    Our justice system is a joke. You get a bigger sentence for shooting a moose out of season.

    • Jack
      January 10, 2013 - 23:59

      He got locked up in May and was out by christmas? That is terrible. Not much of a punishment for driving recklessly and taking someones life. The family has to live with their loss everyday. Saddened by the memories of their loved one and the driver is out going to hockey games and enjoying life. This is so wrong.