Shara Bakos, the driver who collided head-on with Nelson singer Pat Henman’s car over a year ago, nearly killing her and her daughter, pleaded guilty on September 8 to impaired driving causing bodily harm and driving without a license.
“I had a big `ah’. It was a shock, but also a relief. It was a very emotional moment,” said Henman, who learned the news via email from the Crown prosecutor.
She said the case has been proceeding slowly, but she’s heartened by the latest development. She plans to be present, along with her daughter Maia Vezina, when Bakos is sentenced in Cranbrook on December 8.
“There’s no vindication. People have to be accountable for their actions, that’s one thing I feel. I really want her off the road forever. This person, this is her second conviction within a year for drunk driving. She obviously has a serious illness. She has to be taken off the road and get help,” she said.
Henman said Bakos had previously missed some court dates, and she was starting to become concerned that the case wouldn’t proceed.
“The first thing was for 11 months the Crown didn’t do anything about it. That’s how long it took them to even serve her. I don’t know if it was a coincidence, but I was so concerned I called Michelle Mungall’s office. Michelle got in touch with the Crown and within three days we heard back,” she said.
Henman said her physical recovery from the accident, which put her into a coma and resulted in her losing 21 feet of intestine, has been slow.
“We’re quite lucky we didn’t lose our lives. But it will never be over. There is no way when you lose parts of your body. Things will continue to improve, hopefully, and you have to learn to live with what you have. I’m just grateful to be here.”
Henman must be hooked up to a total parenteral nutrition bag for 14 hours a day, and she sleeps with it. It ensures that she’s receiving the proper nutrition, because she can’t consume and process normal food.
“For eight months I didn’t eat. I’m eating again, but it’s a slow process,” she said, noting that she would be lost without her husband Larry.
“He’s a part of this. He physically may not have been in the car, but emotionally he’s gone through everything with us. He’s my caregiver, he’s been with both of us, he’s there for Maia 24 hours a day. If she needs him, he’ll be in Alberta. He’s the foundation,” she said.
“We have some good cries together.”
Vezina, who is now back at school at the University of Calgary studying English and Education, said she hasn’t decided for sure whether she wants to be at Bakos’ sentencing.
“I’m really happy that we’re seeing justice. She’s going to learn from her mistakes from doing time or having some consequence.”
Henman said it’s important to her to be present when Bakos is sentenced, as she has yet to see her in person.
“This will be the first time I’ll be seeing her. I do want her to see us and know it’s real. I think that will hopefully help her. She’ll see these people, us, and she’ll see that her actions have touched their lives.”
She said she’s inspired by her daughter’s resilience, and thrilled that she’s continuing to pursue her dream of being a teacher.
“Maia is the bravest most determined woman I know. She is my hero. Everyday she struggles with pain but her beautiful smile continues to shine. I want people to know that.”
Henman, meanwhile, has started to sing again.
“When I was first coming out of my coma, the first song I ended up listening to when I could was Steve Perry, from Journey. He was the first singer I was able to listen and enjoy. I can’t hit those notes that he hits, but I try to sing along with Steve,” she said.
“A year ago I was laying in that bed in Kootenay Lake Hospital thinking at least I’m in my hometown. Now I’m living in my house, I’m walking and talking and trying to sing again. I can’t imagine anybody who would want to sit at home or lay in bed and not want to get better.”
Henman remains optimistic.
“Time is a wonderful healer,” she said.