Framed photos of Travis Selje and other items fill the top of a dresser in his bedroom. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Framed photos of Travis Selje and other items fill the top of a dresser in his bedroom. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Accused’s neurologist in fatal Surrey crash trial says epilepsy can bring on amnesia

Surrey woman being tried for traffic crash that killed Surrey teen testified she has no memory of the crash and believes a seizure caused it

A Surrey neurologist who diagnosed Rituraj Kaur Grewal with epilepsy in 2019 and continues to treat her testified Friday that amnesia can be brought on by an epileptic seizure, a concussion or a combination of both.

Grewal, 26, is accused of criminal negligence causing death in the May 3, 2017 crash at the intersection of 64th Avenue and 176th Street in Cloverdale that killed 17-year-old Travis Selje. She had been driving her dad’s Cadillac and was 22 at the time.

Grewal testified last week that she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision.

An RCMP forensic expert testified earlier during Grewal’s trial, continuing in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, that the Cadillac was doing 142 km/h in a 60 km/h zone just prior to hitting Selje’s Honda Prelude.

Dr. Gurwant Singh, called as a witness for the defence on Friday, is an expert in the diagnosis, treatment, symptoms and causes of epilepsy. He said seizures can be triggered by sleep deprivation, alcohol withdrawal, and drugs.

READ ALSO: Accused says she knows ‘for sure’ she didn’t deliberately cause fatal Surrey crash

READ ALSO: ‘I believe my seizure caused the accident,’ accused on trial for fatal crash tells court

READ ALSO: Forensic expert says accused’s car was doing 142 km/h in crash that killed Surrey teen

Singh has had five appointments with Grewal. The court heard she is given to convulsive seizures and complex partial seizures and also heard Grewal underwent an MRI scan that revealed an arachnoid cyst compressing the right temporal lobe in her brain.

“The main thing is impaired awareness,” Singh told the court. “They individual would look awake but they look like they are looking at distance and they do not respond to you, so they are not aware what’s happening to them.”

The first witness to approach the Cadillac after the crash testified Grewal was convulsing, her whole body was shaking, and that she was foaming and drooling with blood coming out of her mouth. Singh said that account is consistent with his epilepsy diagnosis. “It fits the criteria.”

He said it wouldn’t be brought on by trauma from an impact. Another witness earlier testified it looked like she’d been having a seizure and told the court her daughter has had seizures so she knows what they look like.

“We can’t assume what happened while she was driving,” Singh noted. “But certainly an individual, if having epilepsy, will lose control and it could lead to the incident that happened.”

The trial continues.

READ ALSO: Surrey cop found ‘crack pipe’ in jacket of accused in crash that killed teen

READ ALSO: Witness testifies car that hit Surrey teen’s Honda was going like ‘a bat out of hell’

READ ALSO: Oxycodone found in blood of driver accused in Travis Selje’s death, court heard



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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