A Crown witness in the trial of Rituraj Kaur Grewal, the woman accused in the 2017 traffic crash in Cloverdale that killed Surrey teen Travis Selje, testified he thinks the Cadillac was doing “probably 150 to 180.”
Grewal is being tried in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster during a hearing that is expected to run from Feb. 8 to Feb. 26. She is accused of criminal negligence causing death in the May 3, 2017 traffic crash in Cloverdale that killed the Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student and up-and-coming soccer star.
The crash was at 64th Avenue and 176th Street. The Honda Prelude the teen was driving was stopped at the intersection when it was hit from behind by a black Cadillac driven by Grewal.
Grewal was charged in 2018 with criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle causing death, criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, and failing to remain at the scene of a collision.
Three Crown witnesses testified Tuesday morning
Witness Emilio Gustavo Cabrera told the court he had picked his brother up from soccer practise at Cloverdale Athletic Park and was driving his Toyota Corolla east on 64th Avenue. He was stopped at a red light, behind a line of cars, when a black Cadillac passed on his right.
“This person never stopped,” he told the court. “After the Cadillac hit several vehicles, close to the intersection, we parked at the gas station at 64th and Highway 15, and that’s when paramedics and authorities were attending to the scene.”
He told the court the Cadillac “passed me at a relatively high speed,” which he estimated to be “probably 150 to 180.”
“This person was going so fast that my vehicle shook to the right when he passed me,” Cabrera told the court.
“It continued through the red light and it didn’t stop,” he said. The first vehicle it hit was a black Honda, he said, which then hit another car. “It was kind of like a chain reaction.”
He said he pulled into the gas station, and gave a statement to police.
Fresh flowers, a soccer jersey and other items grace the roadside memorial for Travis Selje at 64th Avenue and 176th Street, the intersection in Cloverdale where the teen died in May of 2017. The cross was made his father, Miki, a machinist by trade. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Witness Sarah Uzaraga Boundy was also driving a Toyota Corolla that night, returning home from her job as a piano teacher. She said what she described as “an Escalade, Cadillac type of vehicle” was “weaving back and forth, going from lane to lane to lane” along 64th Avenue. She said the driver “actually” went right in between her car and someone else’s, on the two-lane road.
“Just going back and forth, cutting off everybody, trying to get into a lane that’s occupied. Eventually just didn’t bother and just went through us, right in between us.”
Boundy said she “couldn’t even begin to count” how many lane changes the driver made. “A lot.”
She said she figured the driver was travelling at about twice the speed of other cars “or more,” roughly 100 kilometres an hour. “I was freaking out,” she told the court. She said she feared the car might hit her.
“The vehicle was right up my butt.”
Boundy said the car couldn’t squeeze through the car in front of her, so it “smoked into” a silver-greyish mid-sized sedan. “It just hit it, lifted it and took off. The poor fellow had no idea what happened because he did not see it coming.”
“It just smashed it and it took off.”
“It was going way faster than the rest of us, way faster,” she told the court.
After checking to see if that motorist was okay, she said, she continued on, to try to get a license plate number.
“By the time I reached the intersection, it was pretty bad.” Smoke was coming out of all of the vehicles at the intersection crash site. People were upset, on their phones. “They could see the smashed, totalled car up by the fence.”
During cross examination Boundy said the speeding vehicle was being driven in a “very sporadic” way. “It was like as if somebody was under the influence, or mental illness.”
Witness Manjinder Gill was also driving down 64th Avenue that night, from 168th Street to 176th Street, on his way to get some groceries.
“I could see the headlights getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” from behind him, he said, “at a rapid rate.” He said he changed lanes to get out of the Cadillac’s way.
“What I saw was the car drive by me, bob and weave aggressively in the lane and drive off,” he said. “Later I heard the sound of a collision.”
He figures the Cadillac had been travelling at about “maybe 100 kilometres or more” and described the manner it was driven in as “very reckless and aggressive.”
Gill told the court he approached the Cadillac, stopped in the middle of the intersection, when he arrived at the crash site.
“I saw a female driver sitting half out, one foot in, one foot out of the vehicle, looking around, saying ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.’”
“She seemed to be intoxicated,” Gill told the court. “The look on her eyes, the glazed look on her face. I’ve been a young person myself, so I know what that look looks like, not knowing what’s going on, rambling on.”
The defence asked Gill during cross examination if he has any medical training. He replied “at that time I did not have any first aid.”
Asked if he knew that the driver had been unconscious and had had a seizure, Gill replied “I wouldn’t know” to both questions.
The trial continues.