Crown witness Constance Jeffrey said the car that hit Travis Selje’s car, killing the Surrey teen, was going like “a bat out of hell.”
Jeffrey testified Wednesday, the third day of a trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster in which Rituraj Kaur Grewal has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death related to the May 3, 2017 crash that killed the up-and-coming Cloverdale soccer star and Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student.
The crash was at 64th Avenue and 176th Street. The Honda Prelude the 17-year-old boy was driving was stopped at the intersection when it was hit from behind by a black Cadillac driven by Grewal, the court heard.
Jeffrey was driving with her granddaughter after picking the girl up from her gymnastics class. She said she looked in her rear view mirror to see a car rushing up on her minivan.
“I was astonished at how quickly it was coming at me,” she told the court. “I was very worried about this vehicle coming at me from behind.”
There was a red light at 176th Street.
“I started to get frightened,” she said. “Like I say, my granddaughter was on the right-hand side of my vehicle, so I pulled over as far as I could.
“All I could think of is if this vehicle was going to hit me, he or she was going to know that I was there so I pumped the brake lights to make sure there was visibility on my vehicle,” she said. “I just remember pumping my brake lights so she would not hit my vehicle.”
“It was just going like, excuse the term, a bat out of hell, that’s what I could see in my rear-view mirror and it gave me a scare,” Jeffrey told the court.
“I was just very worried that it could have been me and my granddaughter.”
The car passed by her minivan with maybe six inches to spare, she testified. “It was just there, all of a sudden boom, gone.”
Jeffrey said she saw it hit the Honda. It was like everything was in slow motion. Parts of the Honda were flying.
“It was pretty much in half, like squished halfway. It spun. One of the bumpers just flew. There was no back end left to it. My granddaughter looked at me and she said, ‘Nana, did that really happen?’”
Jeffrey said she pulled over to try to help. “I didn’t want my granddaughter to see the fear.”
“I heard a lot of yelling and screaming,” she said.
Witness Tina Baker, a psychiatric nurse with Fraser Health, has been nursing for 17 years, 10 of those with the Car 67 program, which has a clinical nurse specializing in mental health work responding to calls with police. Baker was on patrol with Surrey RCMP Constable David Smith on the night of the crash.
They were the first emergency responders at the scene, she said.
Baker said she grabbed some gloves and first went to the Cadillac. The driver side door was opened. The airbags were deployed.
“Her arm was dangling kind of at the side. I then went to take her pulse, to make sure she had a pulse, and in that time I lifted up the airbag to see her face and noticed that she was slumped to the side of the vehicle, toward the centre console,” Baker told the court.
She tried to get the driver’s name from a lanyard she was wearing, so as to call out to her. The driver was unconscious, Baker said, but once she came to, “she was combative.”
“She was grabbing at the airbag and the window,” Baker said. “She was screaming and she was trying to punch and grab at the airbag. In my professional practise, I just assumed it was shock when she came to, and not realizing what was going on and that was her reaction. She was just swinging in general.”
Meantime, Constable Smith was calling for Baker, so she ran over to Selje’s car.
“He was in the vehicle in the passenger seat, holding Travis’s head. He asked me for gloves so I ran back to our vehicle to get our first aid kit.”
“I had come back to the vehicle, placed the first aid kit, opening it looking for gloves. I couldn’t find any and in that time I went back asking my partner what I could do to help,” Baker testified. “And in that time I had somebody tap me on the shoulder and I looked back and it was another police officer with a pair of gloves, and then that’s when I looked up and there was emergency vehicles everywhere.”
Baker said she heard a commotion between police officers and a man who was saying he was refusing to leave.
“I realized that was Travis’s dad, because I heard him say that, so I spent the rest of my time there with Travis’s father while they got Travis out of the vehicle,” she said.
According to Travis Selje’s obituary, he was in the Whitecaps residency program and in 2016 returned to the Surrey United SC U16/U18 squad while also being a member of Team BC Soccer, with which he was to go to the Canada Games in August 2017.
The trial continues.