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Young man that got out of SUV at Central Saanich fatal crash scene 'looked blank,' witness tells trial

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Map: Central Saanich site were driver struck two pedestrians, killing one of them, on Aug. 27, 2018. TIMES COLONIST

A Port Alberni man has told a court how he stood in the middle of Central Saanich Road trying to protect a woman who had been critically injured in a crash that killed her sister.

The memory of that evening, on Aug 27, 2018, brought Garrett Walters to tears as he testified by video from his home on Thursday.

“I was just kind of making sure that nobody touched the woman in the middle of the road. I didn’t want anybody there who didn’t know what they were doing to cause her more harm,” Walters told Anthony Thomas’s judge-alone trial at B.C. Supreme Court.

Thomas has pleaded not guilty to impaired driving and dangerous driving causing the death of Kim Ward and impaired driving and dangerous driving causing bodily harm to her sister, Tracy Ward.

Kim Ward, 51, was a Victoria ­massage therapist who had worked with some of Canada’s top athletes at two Olympic Games. At the time of her death, the sisters were visiting their mother, who lived in a mobile-home park on Central Saanich Road.

Walters testified that he was driving with his family from the ferry toward Victoria. To avoid traffic, he made a detour onto Central Saanich Road.

Out of nowhere, a red Jeep two cars ahead of him started to slowly veer off to the left, he said. “It kind of hovered in the ­middle line briefly as it ­continued over, and it went on to the side and kicked up a bunch of dust and did a bunch of bumps and kind of sped up on the side and came to an abrupt stop.”

Walters pulled off to the side of the road and told everyone to remain in the car.

“Then I ran up to the scene. I got there right after it happened. It was mere moments. I looked around and observed the ­damage and what had happened. And there was a woman lying in the road face down, yeah.” Walters paused and took a breath.

“And there was another woman lying behind the car that had been in the accident and she was quite clearly deceased. There was a young man crouched over by her that I assumed was the driver.”

Walters noticed another young man in a green shirt standing at the passenger side of the Jeep.

“The door was open and his feet were kind of planted like he’d just gotten out of the car,” Walters recalled. “I looked up at him and asked if there was anybody else in the car. I didn’t know if the car was going to catch fire. There was a lot of smoke. He said: ‘No.’ ”

The man asked Walters if anyone had called police.

“He barely got that sentence out,” Walters said. “He was stunned. Both of them looked completely blank and that could have been shock.

“But judging by what I’d seen the vehicle do and the look on their faces, I thought they were probably on drugs.”

Walters noticed a group of six to 10 people in the driveway closest to the accident. A distraught woman, standing near the front of the car, yelled: ‘Oh my God. Is this my family?’ he recalled.

As Walters continued to stand over Tracy Ward, first responders arrived.

Walters testified that it was hard to understand what had happened, what all the bumps were, because of all the dust kicked up by the Jeep at the side of the road.

“We didn’t see those people,” Walters told the court.

The Jeep bounced up and down three or four times, making a loud crashing sound with each bump, he testified. At first, Walters thought the Jeep was driving over rocks at the side of the road.

“Maybe he didn’t drive over the rocks. That’s what I assumed his car was going over,” Walters said.” But given what the scene looked like once I got up there, most likely the bumping was him going over the people and the dog, not the rocks.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com