Crown drops charge af­ter death of child struck by truck

Calgary Herald - - CITY - KEVIN MARTIN KMartin@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/KMart­inCourts

The Crown abruptly with­drew a care­less driv­ing charge Thurs­day, end­ing a trial stem­ming from the death of a child struck by a pickup truck while cross­ing a Bow­ness street.

Pros­e­cu­tor Ros­alind Green­wood told Pro­vin­cial Court Judge Josh Hawkes on Thurs­day she care­fully reviewed her case and de­cided she should no longer pro­ceed.

“The Crown has an obli­ga­tion to con­tin­u­ally as­sess its case,” Green­wood said, at the start of day two of a sched­uled three-day trial against Cal­gar­ian Ta­nis Lam­bert.

“The Crown has con­cluded there is no rea­son­able like­li­hood of con­vic­tion and the Crown is with­draw­ing the charge.”

Lam­bert had been charged with care­less driv­ing un­der the pro­vin­cial Traf­fic Safety Act fol­low­ing a May 6, 2016, col­li­sion in which four-year-old Avayah (Avi) Toulon was struck and killed.

The charge car­ries a max­i­mum pu­n­ish­ment of a $2,000 fine.

Hawkes said judges don’t nor­mally com­ment when the Crown de­cides to cease a pros­e­cu­tion, but he felt he should in this in­stance.

“In my opin­ion, this rep­re­sents an en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate ex­er­cise of pros­e­cu­to­rial dis­cre­tion,” he said.

The judge noted it was “a very dif­fi­cult case.”

“I be­lieve as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­mu­nity I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­vey ... our deep­est sym­pa­thies to the fam­ily in­volved,” Hawkes said. “This is an enor­mous tragedy; its im­pact will con­tinue to af­fect them and I sus­pect Ms. Lam­bert for a very long time.”

Af­ter the de­ci­sion, Lam­bert de­clined to com­ment other than to say “it was a ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent.” She still faces civil lit­i­ga­tion. Be­fore with­draw­ing the charge, Green­wood met pri­vately with the girl’s par­ents, Sa­man­tha and Craig Toulon, to ex­plain her de­ci­sion.

The par­ents de­clined to speak to the me­dia af­ter­wards, but their civil lawyer Stephen Nel­son spoke on their be­half.

“They’re very dis­ap­pointed and very emo­tional to­day about the re­sult and they’re dis­ap­pointed in the job that the Calgary Po­lice Ser­vice and the Crown did in the way this mat­ter was han­dled,” Nel­son said.

He said he felt other wit­nesses to the in­ci­dent should have been called to tes­tify.

“We’re a lit­tle con­fused as to why (they weren’t); in any event, we look for­ward to the whole story com­ing out even­tu­ally,” he said.

Sa­man­tha Toulon tes­ti­fied she was walk­ing with her hus­band and their six chil­dren on 79 Street N.W. when they at­tempted to cross 47 Av­enue.

She said while four of her chil­dren, in­clud­ing Avi, were in the un­marked cross­walk, Lam­bert’s Ford F-150 en­tered the in­ter­sec­tion and ran over her daugh­ter.

The mother in­sisted un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by de­fence lawyer Alain Hep­ner that his client never stopped be­fore the col­li­sion oc­curred. That con­flicted with the ev­i­dence of neigh­bour Steven Stredulin­sky, who watched as the tragedy un­folded. Stredulin­sky said Lam­bert’s pickup stopped be­fore the cross­walk, he be­lieved, to let peo­ple cross.

He said when the truck be­gan to move he saw both the front end and back end jump up, con­sis­tent with Sa­man­tha Toulon’s tes­ti­mony that the ve­hi­cle’s front and back tires rolled over her daugh­ter.

Hep­ner said his client is re­lieved she is no longer fac­ing pros­e­cu­tion.

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