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WestJet agrees to rebook flights for family of Salmon Arm murder victim

Family will be able to attend the sentencing hearing for man charged with killing Ashley Simpson
From left to right, Ashley Simpson’s mother Cindy, father John, sister Amanda Langlois, cousin Bobbie-Lynn McGean gather outside the Salmon Arm Law Courts on Oct. 30 after Derek Favell pleads guilty to killing Ashley Simpson. (Martha Wickett photo)

Richard Hutton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


The family of Ashley Simpson will be able to attend a sentencing hearing for the man responsible for the St. Catharines woman’s death after a change of heart by a major Canadian airline.

“Last night, WestJet called me and booked all the flights for June 11,” Ashley’s mother, Cindy, said Thursday after receiving the news from WestJet that the flights had been rebooked.

“They apologized and sent condolences.”

The family had been booked to be on a flight from Toronto to Calgary and then on to Kelowna, B.C.

The flights were originally booked via the travel site FlightHub and it said any changes were WestJet’s responsibility.

WestJet had initially refused to rebook those flights as it could not find the booking, said Madison Kruger, a strategist with WestJet media relations.

“There was a bit of confusion,” Kruger said, adding that the airline needed what is called a “PNR (Passenger Name Record) number” that is created when a flight is booked.

“We were looking up names but it was difficult to identify which was correct,” Kruger said.

Once the airline had the PNR number, the situation was resolved, she added.

“Once our guest services team had that information, we made the change.”

Cindy was glad the situation was resolved.

“So much of my stress has been relieved,” she said.

in late October last year, Derek Favell pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge in the disappearance and death of Ashley.

She vanished near Salmon Arm, in 2016 and her remains were found in 2021.

Favell was due to be sentenced on Feb. 15 after two days of hearings but the hearings were postponed until June, pending the completion of a Gladue Report.

Such reports “contain information on the unique circumstances of Aboriginal people accused of an offence or Aboriginal offenders,” Legal Aid Ontario states on its website. Courts can refer to the report’s findings in determining sentences for offenders.

The family hopes that with Favell’s sentencing, they will finally be able to move another step forward in their lives and gain some sense of closure.

Ashley’s father, John Simpson, who lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake, was not going to attend.

He has stated that seeing Favell found guilty and visiting the spot where Ashley was found brought him enough closure.

“He will pay for his crime, I’m sure of that,” John Simpson wrote in a post to the Justice 4 Ashley Simpson Facebook page. “I need not waste anymore of my time on him.”

FlightHub, meanwhile, said it was not its responsibility to rebook the flight.

“FlightHub strictly follows the rules and regulations outlined by the airlines,” said David Masanga, vice-president of customer service for FlightHub, adding that as “basic fare tickets” no modifications were permitted.

“Our hands are tied in this matter and we are bound by the airline’s policies,” Masanga said.

He added that the company understood what the family was going through.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the Simpson family for the loss of Ashley,” he said. “We understand the gravity of their situation and the importance of attending the sentencing hearing.”

Members of Simpson’s family have been flying back and forth between Niagara and B.C. with the help of donations from supporters in both Niagara and Salmon Arm.

The Simpson family is still welcoming donations to support their travels back and forth from British Columbia.

The family will accept Air Miles and any donations to their GoFundMe page at