“How can you sleep at night after what you did to my daughter?”
Daniel Pinto’s voice breaks as he asks the question that has haunted him every day for the last year. It was Oct. 13, 2021 when a hit and run left his daughter Bernice, 55, lying in a ditch on Keith Wilson Road.
“It’s been a year and I still don’t sleep,” Pinto said.
He spends nights reliving the moments of a mystery that remains unsolved. No one has ever been arrested. He has no one he can point a finger at and say, ‘You did this! You ruined my daughter’s life.’
Around 8 p.m. that fateful night, Bernice left Pinto’s home near Chadsey Road, carrying a piece of mail for a neighbour. She’s unable to say what happened next, other than she was hit from behind and thrown 30-plus feet through the air before landing in a water-filled ditch.
The impact left her with several fractured bones, a collapsed lung and a brain bleed. It’s a miracle she survived, given how long it took to find her.
It was three hours before Pinto woke up from a sleep and found that she hadn’t come back. He left the house, and halfway to the neighbours’ place he found one of her shoes.
“Something’s not right,” he recalled thinking. “How would she lose a shoe and not pick it up?”
Increasingly worried, Pinto started calling her name, but he heard no response. What he did hear every once in a while was a growling sort of sound. Pinto thought it was an animal, as did neighbours who joined in the search. But it was Bernice, recognizing his voice and trying to get his attention in the only way she could.
“I kept calling her name, and every time I did I heard that growling noise,” he said. “But it didn’t sound like anything a human would make.”
They shone a light into the ditch the noise was coming from, expecting to see a bear.
“We saw my daughter face down in a puddle of water,” Pinto said.
A call to 911 brought a fire truck, and with their help, Bernice was removed from the ditch. From there she was taken to the trauma centre at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
Though she survived, the hit and run left Bernice with significant problems. She can barely walk. Pinto said she’ll need a walker or a cane for the rest of her life, and she’s in constant pain. Bernice also suffered brain damage.
He watches her suffer every day, and 12 months later, Pinto feels no closer to knowing who hit her.
There were tire tracks, evidence that the vehicle veered well off the road to strike Bernice.
“Another three or four inches to the right and that vehicle would have been in the ditch,” Pinto said.
Five days after the incident he got a text message from a number he didn’t recognize saying ‘Really sorry Daniel, but we want you to know this was an accident.’
How they knew his name and how they got his number, he doesn’t know.
“I never answered back. I just took the phone straight to the police station,” he said. “I thought maybe they’d be man enough to turn themselves in after that.”
If there’s more evidence, only the police know.
For a while, Pinto was phoning the RCMP every week or two to ask about the investigation, but he’s grown more and more discouraged as the months have rolled by.
On Wednesday (Oct. 12), police issued a news release to mark the one year anniversary of the hit and run, with RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Krista Vrolyk insisting someone out there knows something.
“If you were the driver of the vehicle involved in this collision, we would like to speak with you,” Vrolyk said. “If you are aware of a vehicle that had unexplained damage which occured the evening of Oct. 13, 2021, we want to speak with you. Or, if you are an auto body shop that performed work on a vehicle with damage to its front in and around Oct. 13, 2021, and noticed anything suspicious about a work order, we want to speak with you.”
Anyone with info is asked to call the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611 or dial Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).