A Surrey man accused in a drunken crash in which his best friend was killed was convicted in B.C. Provincial Court on Thursday.
Andrew Henry Ostrowski, 27, was found guilty of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and failure to stop at an accident causing death in connection to a 2011 T-bone collision that killed Sergio Martinez.
The court heard that the two, who had been friends for about seven years, had been doing repair work on a Honda CRX on Sept. 6, 2011 at a house near 136 Street and 96 Avenue where Ostrowski lived.
They later got into the car and were driving south on 132 Street when they entered the intersection at 88 Avenue on a red light. It was then the CRX was struck on the passenger side by a Nissan Armada which was heading eastbound on 88th.
Martinez was taken by air ambulance to hospital, where he later died.
Ostrowski got out of the car and fled down 132 Street.
Police arrested Ostrowski on a side street about six blocks from the crash site. The arresting officer said Ostrowski smelled of liquor, was swaying and slurring. When asked about an arm injury, he told the officer he “tried to help some guy at an accident down the road.”
Ostrowski, who took the stand during the trial two months ago, claimed that he, like Martinez, was a passenger in the two-seat car, and that a third man was driving at the time of the collision. He testified Martinez was in the passenger seat and he was forced to straddle the centre console area, while the other man, who he claimed spoke Spanish and was a friend of Martinez, was driving.
He said the third man also left down 132 Street after the crash.
Ostrowski claimed the reason he fled was because there were outstanding warrants for his arrest and he knew police would show up to the scene.
During the trial, the court heard from four witnesses who testified seeing Ostrowski get out of the driver’s side of the Honda CRX after the accident and that only one person got out of the car.
Another witness who was cut off by the CRX while driving shortly before the crash testified he thought he saw three people in the car.
On Thursday morning (May 22), Judge Peder Gulbransen said the testimony from the four witnesses made it clear there was no third person in the CRX and that no one other than Ostrowski got out of the vehicle.
He called much of Ostrowski’s testimony “improbable and unbelievable,” adding his account of how he ended up in the CRX with Martinez and the third man was also “fraught with inconsistencies.”
Gulbransen questioned his story that the third man “suddenly appeared” at Ostrowski’s house, ready to move the car to Martinez’s house and that the first Ostrowski heard about the plan was that evening. And if he was good friends with Martinez, Gulbransen asked, why wouldn’t Ostrowski know who the third man was?
The judge said it was clear Ostrowski was intoxicated by the erratic manner in which he was driving and his decision to enter the busy intersection on a red light.
Gulbransen said Ostrowski’s decision to flee the scene and lies to police showed “consciousness of guilt.
“He knew that he was intoxicated and that he had caused a serious accident,” the judge said.
Crown counsel Winston Sayson said the guilty verdict was an affirmation of the important role witnesses play in the justice system.
“As a result of their evidence, the lies of the accused – that there was a mystery driver who committed the offence – were rejected by the judge,” said Sayson.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 5.