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Civil claim involving destruction at riot brings back memories of torched car

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

VANCOUVER - Two years after a mob burned her car at the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, Sarah Edmondson still gets emotional about the mentality of the people who would resort to such an act.

"It was first vandalized and then they decided that wasn't enough so they smashed windows and then they flipped it over and burned it to a crisp," Edmondson said after British Columbia's Crown auto insurer filed civil claims against 46 people involved in damaging or destroying 77 vehicles.

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is seeking damages, interest and costs that have so far amounted to more than $500,000 due to the destruction caused two years ago today after the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 to the Boston Bruins.

Spokesman Adam Grossman said it's possible that as cases against suspected rioters proceed through the courts, more people will be added to the legal case that is aimed at recovering costs for motorists.

"There's some pretty extreme acts of vandalism and we want to ensure those costs aren't passed on to the customers," he said of the riot on June 15, 2011.

Court documents filed Friday say that shortly before the Canucks lost the game, a vehicle was overturned and set on fire at an area where the City of Vancouver had set up a giant TV screen for an estimated 55,000 people.

According to the claim, at least 122 vehicles, including 24 emergency vehicles, were damaged or destroyed on the night that store windows were smashed and merchandise was looted, costing businesses millions of dollars.

After watching the game at a friend's home, Edmondson escaped with a group on a boat cruise of the harbour to wait for the crowd, which had ballooned to about 100,000 people, to disperse.

"We started getting texts from friends about a riot and we could see smoke from the inlet," she said from Lakeville, Conn., where she was attending her husband's high school reunion.

Edmondson, 35, said a friend caught up in the mayhem sent her a picture of her cream-coloured Mini Cooper convertible flipped upside down and torched.

"I was embarrassed for Vancouver and I felt very sad," she said of the night when 22 other cars were destroyed and written off by ICBC, 10 of them burned.

Over the next few weeks, friends and strangers banded together to send Edmondson pictures and videos of her beloved car, which she'd named Cindy Cream Puff, via Facebook.

"Even though I wasn't there when it happened, I saw how the whole thing happened from different angles and how other people didn't respond."

Edmondson said she wants the 46 people who have so far been identified in ICBC's civil claim to understand the implications of their violent behaviour.

"It was very, very upsetting," she said.

"My car was this cute little mini convertible but more than that it represented the first car that I felt I really earned. I worked hard for it and it represented my efforts," said Edmondson, who does voiceovers for film and TV.

So far, 149 people have entered guilty pleas for participating in the riot and 102 of them have received sentences ranging from discharges to more than a year in jail.

Only one person, a 26-year-old man, has been convicted at trial after online video footage showed him using a street barricade to smash a storefront window during a rampage.

Trials are currently scheduled for 15 other people.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/the-canadian-press/130615/civil-claim-involving-destruction-at-riot-brings-back-memori