Al­ter­na­tive sce­nario

Toronto crash re­con­struc­tion­ist tes­ti­fies deadly crash was just tragic ac­ci­dent, not crim­i­nal

Journal Pioneer - - PRINCE COUNTY - BY COLIN MA­CLEAN

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.

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