Of­fi­cer tes­ti­fies driver con­fused, speech slurred

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - JANE SIMS

His speech was slurred. He had trou­ble con­cen­trat­ing. He was sweat­ing, couldn’t make eye con­tact. His mouth was dry.

It was just min­utes af­ter Nathan Hath­away had been in a head-on crash.

A po­lice of­fi­cer charged him with driv­ing while im­paired by drug.

“I be­lieved he was un­der the in­flu­ence of nar­cotics,” said Lon­don po­lice Const. Stephen Wil­liams dur­ing his tes­ti­mony at Hath­away’s im­paired and dan­ger­ous driv­ing trial.

But Su­pe­rior Court Jus­tice Marc Gar­son heard Wed­nes­day there might be other pos­si­bil­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly shock, for Hath­away’s un­usual be­hav­iour.

Hath­away, 31, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of driv­ing while im­paired by drug and four counts of dan­ger­ous driv­ing in a case that is fo­cus­ing on the stan­dards sur­round­ing drugs and driv­ing laws.

The Wil­liams fam­ily, from St. Thomas — Kevin, Vir­ginia and their four chil­dren — were in­jured when their GMC Sierra ex­tended cab pickup truck was struck head-on af­ter they had turned onto Wil­ton Grove Road to head home from the Mus­tang Drive-In movie theatre early in the morn­ing of July 24, 2016.

Kevin and Vir­ginia strug­gle with brain in­juries. Their daugh­ter Olivia, who was in the front seat with them, had se­vere face and arm in­juries.

Hath­away’s two-year-old son, Carter, also was in­jured.

What will con­tinue to be an is­sue at the trial is de­ter­min­ing whether Hath­away’s abil­ity to drive his SUV was im­paired by the metham­phetamine found in his blood.

Un­like al­co­hol, there are no clear bench­marks in drug cases. Also, it’s un­clear how the drugs af­fect a per­son’s abil­ity to drive.

The wit­nesses Wed­nes­day all were po­lice of­fi­cers, some who had di­rect deal­ings with Hath­away and oth­ers who mea­sured the crash scene and an­a­lysed the crash data recorder in the Nis­san Rogue Hath­away had been driv­ing.

Wil­liams made his as­sess­ment of Hath­away af­ter he saw him con­sol­ing his son. The boy’s mother also was in the SUV.

He tes­ti­fied he saw no vis­i­ble in­juries to Hath­away’s head and he couldn’t smell any al­co­hol. Hath­away un­der­stood the in­struc­tions Wil­liams gave him and his rights to coun­sel.

But Wil­liams only had been a po­lice of­fi­cer for about a year at the time of the crash and Hath­away was the first per­son he’d ever charged with im­paired by drug of­fences.

He also was shown the plas­tic bag­gie with white residue and the scale found in the cen­tre con­sole of Hath­away’s SUV.

Hath­away was taken by am­bu­lance to Lon­don Health Sciences Cen­tre. Wil­liams said he rode in the am­bu­lance with Hath­away.

“He was still act­ing con­fused,” he said.

At the hos­pi­tal, Wil­liams said he watched staff take blood sam­ples and Hath­away fell asleep.

A blood sam­ple was later seized by war­rant and an­a­lyzed by a tox­i­col­o­gist.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by de­fence lawyer Robert Farrington, Wil­liams agreed he made his as­sess­ment of Hath­away while Hath­away was in pain from his in­juries and may have had some blood on him.

Farrington asked Wil­liams if he was fa­mil­iar with the symp­toms of shock. He re­minded Wil­liams his client was placed on a backboard and given oxy­gen be­fore he was trans­ported to hos­pi­tal.

Wil­liams agreed Hath­away was “not ex­cited or ag­i­tated or eu­phoric.”

Lon­don po­lice Const. Chris Ri­ley tes­ti­fied he ex­am­ined the data from the Nis­san that recorded speed and steer­ing in the five sec­onds be­fore the crash.

Hath­away’s ve­hi­cle was trav­el­ling at 96 km/h, then slowed to 89 km/h be­fore crash­ing. The brakes were ap­plied on im­pact.

There was ev­i­dence of the SUV mak­ing a quick turn to the left and then to the right be­fore the crash.

The trial con­tin­ues Thurs­day af­ter­noon when the Crown is ex­pected to call an ex­pert tox­i­col­o­gist to dis­cuss the ef­fects of drugs on driv­ing.

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