Father of 6-year-old victim of Falmouth crash: 'I learned about happiness from him'

Tom Servaes says more needs to be done to help rebuild lives following crimes

Carole Morris-Underhill editor@hantsjournal.ca
Published on December 1, 2015

Evan Servaes is remembered as a happy young Bedford boy who was killed on Highway 101 near Falmouth in 2013 in a tragic accident. (Submitted photo)

WINDSOR — The father of a young boy who died after a collision on Windsor's notorious stretch of highway says the justice system needs an overhaul when it comes to providing victim services.

But, he doesn't believe it's up to the victims to have to champion that cause.

“Nobody is asking the victim what they would like to see, what they would want to know,” said Tom Servaes, who was in Windsor Nov. 27 to hear Judge Claudine MacDonald rule Mohammad Younus was guilty of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Younus was the truck driver whose rig was involved in a multi-vehicle accident on Highway 101 near Falmouth in July 2013. That accident resulted in the death of Servaes' eldest son, six-year-old Evan.

“I think the entire process is definitely cumbersome and really depends a lot on how... much the victim can advocate for themselves,” said Servaes following the guilty verdict. Younus will be sentenced in February.

Servaes followed much of the trial via social media.

Servaes said he was pleased with the judge's ruling, largely because it means this difficult chapter in his life is coming to a close.

“What I was hoping for.. was that the verdict was clear, was well-founded, well-reasoned and that it would be an end to the case,” said Servaes, noting he hoped there wouldn't be an appeal.

Servaes said the court system focuses on punishing the guilty, not helping victims get back on their feet. There's also no clear requirement for the guilty party to make amends.

“We teach children to say sorry at the very least. But there is nothing that even comes close to that in the legal system where anybody is required to own up to the results of their actions,” said Servaes.

“If they don't want to say sorry, they don't even have to say sorry. It's a petty example, but it's representative of how little concern there is for the victims.”

He said an unfair expectation is for victims to lobby for the changes they want to see in the justice system, when they're the ones who are left with few resources to put the pieces of their own lives back together.

“Victims often feel pressured to help prevent the situation that they fall into but it's really not a fair expectation,” said Servaes, adding that “expecting the victim to be the champion or putting out the call (for change) is really unfortunate.”

 

Outpouring of support

Although his son's life was tragically cut short, Servaes said his boy's positive attitude touched everyone that he met. During the weeks after the crash, the family received an outpouring of support from people, many of whom were complete strangers.

That support, which is still strong, was what helped him get through his darkest days. It wasn't knowing that the driver would be punished.

“I already received what I want – the support and acknowledgment — and people helping us back on our feet,” said Servaes, as the family tries to rebuild their lives.

“It's just a pity that it all has to come from the people that were impacted, the people who are doing it out of the goodness of their heart.”

He said he met people he didn't know that were touched by the boy's zest for life. First responders involved at the scene even reached out to the family in the days following the accident.

Servaes said his son had great empathy and instinctively reached out to those in need. He also always seemed to find the best in every situation — something people can learn from.

“Most of us are looking for happiness and trying to change our situation so that we can be more happy. He was happy in any situation because he was happy on the inside,” said Servaes, his voice filled with emotion.

“I learned about happiness from him. As much as I tried to be his father, he taught me that,” said Servaes.

“I am very proud that I was his father.”

Read more coverage of the trial here.