A 13-year-old girl took the stand in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday to testify about the backroad truck crash that killed her mother two years ago.
Cody Kuch, the owner of the truck, is charged with dangerous driving causing death as a result of the accident, which took the life of his girlfriend, Joanne Lapointe.
They were driving late at night with her two young children when the vehicle left Lac du Bois Road near McQueen Lake on April 7, 2010. It remains unclear who was driving, Lapointe or Kuch, who suffered non-life threatening injuries in the rollover and could not recall what happened.
Defence counsel Ken Tessovitch reinforced that uncertainty while cross-examining Mia, Lapointe’s daughter and the eldest of the two children who were in the truck.
Mia, who now lives with her father in Alberta, had a support worker at her side during testimony. Owing to the girl’s age, she was not required to swear an oath, only to promise to tell the truth.
Mia told Crown prosecutor Iain Currie that they’d gone for a drive in the mountains. She recalled sitting with her little brother, sharing a seatbelt on the passenger side. She also remembered the truck overheating and Kuch refilling the radiator with lake water in a milk jug. Her recollection of the accident, however, was sketchier. She was falling asleep when the truck left the road.
Was her mom driving, Currie asked?
“I don’t think so,” she replied timidly, her head bowed.
Justice Terence Schultes sought to reassure her.
“You’re not on trial here,” Schultes told her with a smile. “You’re not in trouble and you’re not going to be in trouble. All we need you to do is tell us what you remember.”
After a brief adjournment, the girl returned to the stand for defence questioning.
Tessovitch cited two sets of statements the girl gave to police in the days and months following the crash. She first told police her mom had driven up to McQueen Lake, but later stated she could not remember her mom driving. Mia acknowledged in court that she is uncertain who was at the wheel when the accident occurred.
In earlier testimony on Monday, a mechanic testified that Kuch’s truck would have failed a mechanical inspection due to the condition of its brakes and use of an after-market steering wheel. Kevin Wallace, who was working at Westbrock Chevron at the time, examined the truck after the accident.
Kuch and the two children walked about 10 kilometres in snowy conditions before they were picked up.
The trial continues Wednesday.