Thursday April 24, 2014

He loses leg, she loses licence

Motorist jumped curb at Cooper's, smashing into pedestrian

A provincial court judge ruled Monday a 69-year-old driver whose foot slipped from the brake to the accelerator, hitting and seriously injuring a pedestrian in a parking lot, is guilty of driving without due care and attention.

A trial was held in November after Evelyn Jack pleaded not guilty to the charge under the Motor Vehicle Act.

Judge Stella Frame rejected any notion that Jack had her foot firmly on the brake pedal or that mud caused her foot to slip and hit the accelerator pedal.

Instead, Frame ruled that Jack was inattentive, first by parking in a handicapped spot when the sticker was a friend's and secondly by poorly parking her vehicle before it suddenly accelerated, hitting Gregory Harris.

There was no mechanical failure of the van.

Harris was at Lansdowne Village on Dec. 2 last year with his autistic son, watching trains. He then walked to Cooper's Foods to pick up lunch for the next day.

As Harris walked on the sidewalk, Jack's van suddenly accelerated, jumping the curb and sidewalk and pinning Harris against a pillar. He testified Jack kept her foot on the accelerator, causing the van's front tire to smoke, as his leg was pinned and crushed.

"The absence of any brake marks also go to show that she was inattentive in continuing to drive into the parking spot and over the sidewalk into Mr. Harris: The inadvertence is in the act of pressing the accelerator instead of the brake, and in accelerating instead of braking once she struck Mr. Harris," Frame said in her judgement.

The pump truck driver lost his lower leg and has not worked since.

Jack asked that she not be given a driving ban, arguing it was a one-off incident.

"I'm a good driver," she complained. "I'm not demented and don't have Alzheimer's."

Steve Aasen, a former cabbie, testified at the trial he'd frequently driven with Jack, a fellow resident at nearby Glenfair senior's complex, describing her as a good driver.

Frame ordered a $1,000 fine and a six-month driving ban.

Crown lawyer Don Mann said given Jack's age and the nature of the accident, a ban will alert B.C.'s Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, who may take further action.

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