Effective June 1, 2018,  all gas stations in Alberta will require customers to pay in advance before fueling their vehicles but the new law comes too late for those who lost a loved one to a fatal gas-and dash incident.

Maryam Rashidi Ashtiani, 35, died in hospital in June 2015 after attempting to stop a fuel theft at the Centex Station in the 1800 block of 16 Avenue Northwest days earlier. The gas station employee jumped on the hood of a pickup truck after the driver filled the vehicle with $113 worth of fuel but did not pay. Ashtiani fell from the vehicle and suffered injuries to her skull and neck that proved fatal.

Ehsan Hosseini, a friend of Ashtiani’s, applauds Alberta’s new gas-and-dash legislation but questions why it took so long to introduce given the fact that British Columbia’s law, known as Grant’s law in honour of a worker killed in 2005, went into effect in 2008.

“It’s going to save lives for sure,” said Hosseini. “Back in B.C., after passing this bill, there was no incident of gas-and-dash anymore and I hope the same thing is going to happen for Alberta.”  

“They should have taken the steps faster. They should have made regulations in place much earlier than this.”

Since Ashtiani’s passing, 54-year-old Ki Yun Jo was killed in October 2017 while attempting to stop a gas-and-dash at a Fas Gas station in the town of Thorsby, southwest of Edmonton. Earlier this month, the suspects in a fuel theft at Ghost Station, west of Cochrane on Highway 1A, were involved in a serious t-bone collision a short distance from the gas station.

“It’s common sense,” said Hosseini of the ‘Act to Protect Gas and Convenience Store Workers’. “You see people getting killed and you hope this is going to be the last one, then one more thing comes up.”

“This is something serious. You’re actually playing with people’s lives with these rules and regulations.”

Under the law created to ‘improve safety for retail fuel and convenience store workers’, customers must prepay for fuel using one of the following avenues:

  • Paying at the pump
  • Paying the attendant before fueling
  • Preauthorizing a debit or credit card or leaving a deposit with the attendant
  • Having an account with the fuel company

Mike Mondor, the owner of Ghost Station, agrees that the legislation has been a long time coming. “This should have been done years ago.”

As an owner of an independent gas station, Mondor says he faces a significant cost to upgrade his pumps to comply with the new law and the province is not offering any financial help.

The Wayne Dresser pumps at the station date back to the 1980’s and do not accept payment. Mondor says his customers will need to come inside to pay and his staff will have to monitor and manually stop the pumps when the prepaid fuel amount is reached.These pumps are pretty much obsolete. The electronics in them won’t work with our prepay system so we have to get all new pumps,”

According to Mondor, he has requested quotes from suppliers on replacing his pumps. “To put two pumps in with all the piping could probably run us over $100,000 if not $150,000.”

Mondor says he has been approached by bigger companies with offers to install their pumps and their branding at his station but he takes pride in being among the ‘few and far between’ independent stations in Alberta. “We’d like to stay independent and provide the best service for our customers.”

With files from CTV's Shaun Frenette