Fatal crash trial extended

The trial of a man accused of driving infractions in relation to a fatal crash three years
ago did not conclude yesterday as originally scheduled.
Instead, court time is being set aside next month to finish the trial of 39-year-old Jeffrey
Robert Penz, who is accused of the Motor Vehicle Act offences of failing to stop for a yellow light and drive without reasonable consideration.
The charges relate to a June 8, 2010 crash at Highway 97 and Westlake Road where a semi
went through the intersection allegedly after the light was yellow and struck a pickup truck. The semi then went over an embankment and apparently hit a Toyota before bursting into flames. An occupant in the Toyota, 33-year-old Ethan Bapiste, was killed.
At trial, the court has heard that there were two occupants in the semi, and defence lawyer Kim Ross tried to suggest yesterday to paramedic Mark Slabotsky that Penz was not the driver of the semi.
Slabotsky disagreed and had earlier testified that Penz, an Alberta resident, identified himself as the driver of the vehicle.
Other testimony has focused on when other drivers that day saw the advanced amber flashing lights--or wig wags-- at the intersection and where the semi involved in the crash was when the flashing began.
Ross has indicated that the “ability to see the wig wags and at what distance” is a focal point at trial.
Trevor Everitt was in the fast lane heading into West Kelowna and had started to slow after seeing the advanced amber flashing lights when he said he spotted a truck in the slow lane that “wasn’t going to stop.”
Everitt testified that the trucker was “definitely a couple of car lengths behind” the warning lights when they began to flash, and said he didn’t see any brake lights come on the truck until after it impacted a truck in the intersection and went onto its side.
Trucker George Reinholz said he travelled with the truck, which appeared to be fully loaded, along Highway 97 from Edwards Road and testified the truck involved in the crash was “at least two car lengths before the wig wags” or advanced amber flashing lights, when they began to flash.
He also said under cross examination that if a trucker had his sun visor down it could potentially “obliterate” his view of the wig wags.
When asked if he saw the trucker hesitate before entering the intersection, he said he noted the driver “veered to the right” in an evasive move just before hitting a pickup in the intersection.
The trial continues July 16.
By Cheryl Wierda, Capital News contributor
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