Lorraine Murphy looked up when she heard her son say: “What’s that idiot doing in the middle of the road?”
It was late August 2018 and Murphy was in the front passenger seat of a car driven by her son, the Crown witness testified Wednesday at Anthony Thomas’s judge-alone trial in B.C. Supreme Court.
Thomas has pleaded not guilty to impaired driving and dangerous driving causing the death of Kim Ward on Aug. 27, 2018 and impaired driving and dangerous driving causing bodily harm to her sister, Tracy Ward.
Ward, 51, was a Victoria massage therapist who had worked with some of Canada’s top athletes at two Olympics. At the time of her death, Ward and her sister were visiting their mother, who lived in a mobile park on Central Saanich Road.
Murphy testified that she saw a red SUV one car ahead of her son’s car veering across the road.
“I didn’t see him right in the centre of the road. I saw him veering across the centre line and onto the shoulder of the opposite side of the road, and then kind of going parallel to the road on the boulevard, on the shoulder of the road,” said Murphy, who testified by video from her home in Ontario.
The car started bouncing up and down on the shoulder of the left side of the road, she testified.
“I could just see the roof of it bouncing up and down,” she said. “It had crossed the centre line and was on the opposite side of the road. I could hear crashing as it went up and down, crash, crash, crash. And then it stopped.”
Her son, Garrett Walters, pulled over to the side of the road and got out to see what was happening.
He told Murphy, who was in the car with her daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, to stay in the car.
Murphy noticed that the car in front of them had also pulled over and there was a big transport truck parked on the right side of the road
Murphy couldn’t see much from the front passenger seat, so she also got out of the car and looked.
“I wanted to make sure my son wasn’t out there by himself, being the first on the scene,” she testified.
“I saw a person lying in the middle of the road and I saw this red SUV that had come to a stop at the other side of the road with the passenger door open and it looked like another person on the ground behind that vehicle.”
People were coming toward the scene and gathering on the other side of the road, she said. “And somebody was bent over what looked like a person at the rear end of the red vehicle.”
Murphy got back in the car, trying to distract her young grandchildren. Her son came back and said an ambulance had been called. She pointed out the dead dog on the other side of the road. By that time, emergency vehicles were arriving and more people were coming to the scene.
It was a clear bright day, she recalled. Before the crash, the red SUV appeared to be travelling at regular speed. The veering was not abrupt, but gradual, on an angle, said Murphy.
During cross-examination, Murphy told defence lawyer Peter Blokmanis the driver of the red SUV did not brake or accelerate aggressively.