Cy­clists broke law be­fore crash: Rcmp

Po­lice tes­tify no ev­i­dence of care­less driv­ing on Sher­wood Park Free­way

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Jeff Labine @jef­flabine

Two Moun­ties in­ves­ti­gat­ing a crash that sent sev­eral bi­cy­clists to hos­pi­tal last year along the Sher­wood Park Free­way tes­ti­fied at trial there was no ev­i­dence of care­less driv­ing.

RCMP Const. Amanda Gowin and Cpl. Barry Red Iron both tes­ti­fied dur­ing the one-day trial of Jes­sica Olek­siuk on Mon­day at a Sher­wood Park court­house.

Olek­siuk is charged with care­less driv­ing af­ter a group of cy­clists were struck by a white pickup truck along the free­way just be­fore High­way 217 on Aug. 11, 2018.

Five cy­clists were sent to hos­pi­tal with one in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

The court heard from sev­eral wit­nesses and watched a dash cam­era video that showed the crash.

Gowin, who was the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer, told the court­room there didn’t ap­pear to be any ev­i­dence of care­less driv­ing. She said Olek­siuk had no al­co­hol in her sys­tem and didn’t ap­pear to be im­paired.

“Look­ing at the video, speed doesn’t ap­pear to be a fac­tor,” she said. “I don’t see ex­ces­sive speed ... no ag­gres­sive driv­ing.”

When she ar­rived on the scene just be­fore 10 a.m., she de­scribed the crash as “chaos.”

Gowin said Olek­siuk did not know the area very well and was driv­ing her boyfriend’s ve­hi­cle. She de­scribed Olek­siuk as be­ing very up­set and ap­peared to be hav­ing a panic at­tack.

Gowin told the court Olek­siuk’s phone’s data was turned off and was at one per cent and needed to be plugged into the ve­hi­cle be­fore it could be used.

Gowin said the cy­clists broke the law be­cause they were rid­ing side-by-side in the mid­dle lane.

Un­der pro­vin­cial law, cy­clists are sup­posed to go in a sin­gle file on the shoul­der or close to it. The court heard the cy­clists in­ten­tion­ally choose this for­ma­tion in or­der to ap­pear like a ve­hi­cle while on the road.

Red Iron, who tes­ti­fied as an ex­pert for the de­fence, agreed with his RCMP col­league and said there was no rea­son for the cy­clists to be where they were.

“The law clearly states they can’t ride side-by-side,” he said.

Red Iron said Olek­siuk would have had about six sec­onds to re­act to the cy­clists af­ter the ve­hi­cle ahead of her made an “ag­gres­sive” lane switch to avoid them.

Olek­siuk’s lawyer Ed­mond O’neill re­lied on Red Iron’s tes­ti­mony and said he didn’t want to cast blame on the cy­clists but the group had no rea­son to be where they were.

“If the cy­clists had obeyed the law, we wouldn’t be here,” he said.

O’neill is ask­ing for an ac­quit­tal.

Crown at­tor­ney Jeff Ru­diak dis­agreed and ar­gued that the six or eight sec­onds that Olek­siuk wasn’t pay­ing at­ten­tion meant she was be­ing care­less be­hind the wheel.

He said Olek­siuk had clear vi­sion and pro­vided no good rea­son for why she couldn’t avoid the group.

He also called into ques­tion Red Iron’s re­port be­cause the RCMP of­fi­cer never spoke with Olek­siuk.

“Driv­ers of the road have to pay at­ten­tion to other driv­ers,” he said. “She wasn’t pay­ing at­ten­tion around her.”

The trial was ad­journed to Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. where the judge will de­liver her ver­dict.

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