Memorial for Travis Selje on 64th Avenue in Cloverdale, west of 176th Street. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

Memorial for Travis Selje on 64th Avenue in Cloverdale, west of 176th Street. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

Epilepsy-defence driver found not guilty in crash that killed Surrey teen Travis Selje

Accused testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision

Surrey woman Rituraj Kaur Grewal, 26, has been found not guilty of criminal negligence causing death in the 2017 traffic crash that killed Surrey teenager Travis Selje.

Justice Jeanne Watchuk delivered her verdict Thursday afternoon. She found the Crown had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The charges alone do not reflect the enormity of this tragedy,” she said, launching into her 47-page reasons for decision. After discussing her reasons for decision for more than two hours, Watchuk told Grewal, “You are free to leave the courtroom.”

“After consideration of the evidence, the facts as found based on the totality of the evidence, the law and the application of the law to these facts, all as set out above, I therefore find you Ms. Grewal not guilty on counts one, two and three.”

The judge found Grewal to be “continuingly troubled” by the collision and “deeply remorseful for the death of Travis and the harm done by her driving.”

Grewal had been driving her father’s Cadillac at age 22 when it slammed into Selje’s Honda Prelude at high speed on May 3, 2017 at the intersection of 64th Avenue and 176th Street in Cloverdale. The 17-year-old boy died in hospital two days later.

Grewal testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision. Watchuk found her to be a “forthright” witness and “credible in her evidence, generally.

“I accept her evidence in its entirety,” the judge said. She concluded Grewal was not controlling the Cadillac as it accelerated and changed lanes prior to the fatal crash.

She accepted that Grewal’s driving was consistent with the medical evidence presented by the defence that she suffered from a progression of epileptic seizures “wherein there is an increasing loss of motor control.”

“On the totallity of the evidence that Ms. Grewal was having an epileptic seizure,” she said, “the Crown has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it was unreasonable for Ms. Grewal to be driving a car on May 3rd, 2017.”

An RCMP forensic expert testified during the trial, which was heard 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 car.

“Which is 100 per cent throttle,” the judge noted. There was no evidence the Cadillac had mechanically malfunctioned.

READ ALSO: Judge to deliver verdict in Travis Selje case on April 22

READ ALSO: Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

READ ALSO: Crown says defence case epilepsy caused fatal Surrey crash fails on balance of probabilities

The court also heard during the trial that Grewal crashed into another car but kept going until she hit Selje’s car further on down the road. For that she was also charged with failing to remain at the scene of a collision, as well as criminal negligence causing bodily harm in the case of another driver, Gary Mordecai. Watchuk also acquitted her on these charges.

homelessphoto

Travis Selje

Selje’s death tore a hole in the community. The 1,095-seat Cloverdale Baptist Church was filled to capacity on May 17, 2017 as mourners celebrated the straight-A honour roll student’s life.

Selje’s father, Miki Selje, told the Now-Leader at the outset of the trial in February that there’s “no such thing” as closure.

“People always say, ‘Oh, you’re looking for closure.’ No. There’s no such thing as closure. It’s a wound that will never close, so there’s no closure,” he said.

“My soul is gone. I am no longer a whole person.”

Grewal testified during the trial that she has no criminal record.

According to court documents, however, Rituraj Kaur Grewal, age 26, has 10 traffic violations, nine of which were deemed by the courts to be “not disputed.”

Rituraj Kaur Grewal was ticketed on June 29, 2013 in Surrey for speeding and failing to display a new driver sign. On Sept. 3, 2013 she was ticketed for speeding in Vancouver, and found guilty. And on Nov. 3, 2015 she was ticketed in Surrey for failing to produce a drivers licence or insurance, and driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention.

On Nov. 19, 2015 she was ticketed in Surrey for “failing to yield after stop.” On Jan. 7, 2016 she was ticketed in Langley for failing to wear a seatbelt and on Nov. 19, 2016 she was ticketed in Langley for using an electronic device while driving.

On Dec. 16, 2016 she was ticketed for speeding, as well as driving without reasonable consideration.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram  and follow Tom on Twitter

BC Supreme CourtCloverdaleSurreyTraffic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP detachment. (Contributed file photo)
Surrey RCMP investigating 2 ‘suspicious’ house fires in Newton

Incident happened at 5:11 a.m., Sunday morning

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, which would be in what the BCCDC refers to as the Panorama community, on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins
Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates

Those same communities were highlighted in the SPEAK survey, which highlighted disparities in the city

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. says Van (William) Dinh, a registered massage therapist in Surrey and Langley, has had his licence suspended while an inquiry committee panel investigates allegations of sexual misconduct. (Unsplash photo)
Surrey massage therapist suspended amid sexual misconduct investigation

CMTBC received complaint Van (William) Dinh allegedly exposed ‘sensitive areas of the patient’s body’

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read