THE American woman who killed two teens in a car
crash last year will walk away from two charges of
dangerous driving causing death.
Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday that an
over-the-counter diet drug taken by Julia Campagna, 28,
of Kirkland, Washington, had precipitated a
"psychotic mental disorder" and that Campagna
could not be held criminally responsible for her actions.
Campagna rear-ended the vehicle of Monique Ishikawa, 19,
and her friend Kimberly Brooks, 18, at the Peace Arch
border crossing on May 30 last year.
Brooks, of Port Coquitlam, and Ishikawa, of North
Vancouver, died instantly.
The two girls had been on a shopping trip to Seattle.
Their natural gas-powered car burst into flames when it
was struck by Campagna's 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix at a
speed of at least 85 km/h.
The speed limit at the crossing was 30 km/h.
Best friends for years, the girls were both well-liked.
Ishikawa had recently graduated from Sutherland secondary
school and was due to start classes at Capilano College
in the fall.
Campagna had been taking Xenedrine, a diet drug
containing Ephedrine, for five days straight, stopping
four days before the accident. The drug is legally
available in the U.S.
Campagna has a family history of mental illness. At the
time of the accident, she was suffering from a delusion
that she was carrying NHL hockey player Joe Nieuwendyk's
Though Campagna and Nieumendyk had never met, she said
she heard his voice on her car radio, urging her to speed
across the border. She thought that if she drove fast
enough, she could fly.
Ephedrine, which is derived from the Chinese herb
Ephedra, is frequently used by athletes as a stimulant.
It was one of the drugs taken by shamed hockey player
Steve Vezina during the Pan Am Games last month.
After being linked to incidences of strokes, heart
attacks, and seizures, Ephedrine is under renewed
assessment by the American Food and Drug Administration.
For individuals like Julia Campagna who are already
predisposed towards mental illness, the drug can cause
hallucinations and psychotic episodes.
Campagna was certified as psychotic after being examined
by forensic psychiatrist Dr. LeeAnne Meldrum shortly
after the accident.
But during her trial, according to Monique's father Cat
Simril, Campagna was said to have suffered only temporary
"They went out of their way to portray her as the
sanest possible person," he said. "The whole
trial celebrated what a wonderful person she is. The fact
that she killed two people is just a footnote to her
whole glorious career."
Simril said he asked prosecutors last year if Campagna
could be extradited for trial in the U.S. He was told
that Campagna's offence was "too minor."
"It's hideous," he said yesterday. "At one
time we assumed the justice system would bring justice.
That's something we abandoned long ago."
Simril and his wife Fumiyo Ishikawa will not be appealing
the decision. "What would it accomplish?" he
However, the families of other victims injured in the
multi-vehicle accident intend to file a civil suit
Campagna psychiatrist in the U.S. has not recommended any
supervision for her -- and she has already been given
permission to drive again. "She's a serious threat
to the people of Seattle," said Simril.
Last month, a plaque was set up at Peace Arch crossing in
honour of the two girls. Monique's family have also set
up a Web sit in her memory at
site features voice recordings and a photo gallery of
Monique, as well as reminiscences from those who knew