Toronto crash reconstructionist testifies deadly crash was just tragic accident, not criminal
A “classic, textbook case” of the misapplication of a gas pedal.
That was the conclusion Jason Young, president of Torontobased Advantage Forensics, came to when he examined the crash data in the case against Gregory Stuart Collicutt, 27, of O’Leary.
Thursday was day four in Collicutt’s Supreme Court jury trial in Summerside. He has been charged with dangerous driving causing the death of Dorothy Mae Mayhew, 67, of Lady Fane.
Collicutt’s 2006 Chevy Impala and Mayhew’s 2000 Toyota Echo collided at the intersection of Route 10 and Route 1A in Central Bedeque on Oct. 9, 2015. Days one, two and three of the trial were comprised of Crown witnesses. Day four consisted mostly of Young’s testimony on behalf of the defence, though Collicutt’s mother, Susan Collicutt, briefly testified to an interaction she’d had with the lead RCMP investigator. To date, the Crown’s case has been focused on the speed at which Collicutt’s car exited Route 10. Its primary piece of evidence has been a data recording device or ‘black box’ that was recovered from his car following the crash.
It indicated that the car was going between 95 and 117 km/h, half a second before the collision. It also showed that no attempt was made to break and the accelerator was 100 per cent engaged.
Young, who was acknowledged by the court as an expert witness in the area of crash reconstruction, was hired by the defence to conduct his own investigation into the collision, based on the same data and information the RCMP used to charge Collicutt.
While Young agreed with most of the RCMP’s findings based on the data, he concluded that the most likely reason why Collicutt’s car went speeding through the intersection that day was because the gas pedal was mistakenly pushed instead of the break pedal.
Young testified that there are five usual factors in what he called “gas pedal misapplication cases” and four were present in this case. They included the driver being in a car they are unused to (the Impala belonged to Collicutt’s brother), for the cruise control to be on (it was engaged at the time of this crash) and the wearing of unusual footwear (Collicutt was wearing bulky rubber boots.)
Also in those cases, he said, it is common to see the driver make no attempt at breaking and to actually speed up as their panic grows, because as far as they are concerned, they are pushing on the break trying to stop the car when in fact they’re flooring the accelerator.
“Any driver in this situation, who was in their right mind, would have tried to break,” said Young. Under cross examination by the Crown attorney, John Diamond, Young was asked if he had any indication, based on the information he was given, that Collicutt was not used to driving the impala or if he was unused to wearing rubber boots.
He answered that he had no such evidence.
He was also asked, if his findings were the true version of events, Collicutt could have driven into the potato field next to Route 10, rather than into traffic on Route 1A.
“I suppose that was a possibility, yes,” he answered. There were no witnesses to the crash and Collicutt has declined to give a statement to RCMP, other than telling the lead investigator, while in hospital on the day of the crash, that he didn’t remember what happened.
Diamond and Collicutt’s defence attorney, Peter Ghiz, are scheduled to make their closing statements on Monday.