A North Vancouver man and his family say no one has ever been held accountable for a brutal beating that left him with close to $15,000 in dental bills.
Steven Andrews, now 28, was heading home one night in October of 2010, sitting at the back of a packed and rowdy Lynn Valley bus.
"It was about 1 a.m.," Andrews recalled. "I hadn't been drinking, but everyone else was pretty intoxicated. There were these four guys trying to start fights with anyone they could see. They started hitting this one young guy, smacking him on the side of the head. He wasn't really fighting back; he was just saying, 'Why are you doing this?'"
Andrews was one of several passengers urging the apparent ringleader to leave the teenager alone.
"All I said was: 'Hey, they're calling the cops, you'd better go,'" Andrews said. "I was trying to neutralize the situation. That was enough for him to turn on me, and he hit me a few times, and then his buddies joined in and there were four of them on top of me."
As the gang kicked and punched him, Andrews was cut and bruised and had two teeth knocked out. The driver was unaware of what was happening, and no one else on the bus intervened. His assailants got off at the next stop. The attack was reported later that week in the North Shore News.
"I had to walk up to the bus driver with my teeth in my hands and dripping blood and ask him to call the cops," Andrews said.
North Vancouver RCMP officers arrested a 22 year-old man in Lower Lonsdale later that night, and Andrews formally identified the man based on a photograph lineup the next day.
Although he maintains he picked the right man, Andrews says police told him other witnesses identified different people, so the Crown wasn't willing to go forward with a prosecution.
In the meantime, Andrews was left trying to repair his smashed teeth. The cost of the post and replacement work - which is still not complete - quickly ran into the thousands.
He even made a trip to Mexico to try and find less expensive dentistry.
Andrews and his father Keith would like to sue, but say they haven't been able to track his assailant further than his Facebook profile.
They've considered hiring a private investigator. "We've tried a number of avenues like victim services and the police, to no avail. The system has proven very difficult to work with," Keith Andrews said.
"By the end of all the gymnastics, we're probably going to be out about $15,000. Once you're talking about major dental work, it doesn't take long to run up a bill. It's been a tremendous financial and physical burden. The system has just been inadequate."
There have been lingering emotional consequences for the Andrews as well.
"When you experience a severe trauma like that, it upsets your sense of wellbeing and your sense of confidence.
"Steven thinks twice about getting on a bus at night now, and he's a very big advocate of public transit. As a parent, the effect is a tremendous sense of helplessness, and almost a twinge of guilt about what I could have done to prevent that."