November 27, 2012 - 5:10 PM
On the sixth and final day of the trial of Chase Donaldson, the man accused of a fatal hit and run, court heard a description of the accident from the accused himself.
Chase Donaldson struck a pedestrian by the name of Kiera-Leigh Carlson on the night of April 30, 2010, as she was walking to work along Aberdeen Rd. Carlson's body was discovered May 1st by Vernon Search and Rescue near the NORD center on Aberdeen Rd. Donaldson was arrested that same morning.
Donaldson doesn't deny hitting Carlson, but has pleaded not guilty to counts of dangerous driving and fleeing the scene.
This morning, Donaldson took to the stand to tell his story.
Under the direction of defense lawyer Glenn Verdurmen, Donaldson described the night of April 30, 2010. His account was a close match to that given by his wife, Marcia, last week.
The story goes that the Donaldson's were at Marcia Donaldson's grandparents home in the Bella Vista for a celebratory potluck and BBQ.
"My kids were getting tired around 8 p.m. so my wife took them home," said Donaldson. "I stayed back a bit to clean up."
At around 8:15 p.m. Donaldson's brother in law, Nick Hlina, drove him home. The plan was for Donaldson to get his car while Hlina waited in the driveway, and then to drive to Hlina's house to hang out.
"I went into my son's room to give him a kiss goodnight," said Donaldson. He also kissed his wife, and told her he'd be back a little later.
He then got into his 2006 Subaru Impreza—a standard—and headed onto Gile's Drive, ahead of Hlina.
At that point, he said he was driving 30km/h because he knew kids lived in the area.
Donaldson and Hlina drove onto Aberdeen Rd, and Donaldson lost sight of Hlina when he reached an "S" curve on the road. As he approached the intersection of Aberdeen Rd and Highway 6, Donaldson said his view of the intersection was obstructed by a fence and tall grass going along the right side of the road.
Donaldson said he checked his rearview, and when he looked back down, through the windshield, he saw a flash of headlights coming straight towards him.
"They stung me, and I believed I was going to be in a head-on collision, so I was scared."
During Verdurmen's examination, he asked Donaldson about his vision. Donaldson said he used to wear glasses but some years ago he had laser eye surgery.
"At night, I get a glare from lights that seem really bright."
Donaldson said he turned into the left hand lane to avoid the car, accelerating simultaneously.
"I then started to steer right as I hit the shoulder on the far side of the road. Gravel was spitting up. I felt a thump and I seen a streak go over the left side of my windshield."
At that point, Donaldson said he was still concentrating on getting back on the road so he didn't go over the edge.
"I was shook up, I was scared and worried about what I hit. I was worried it might have been a person."
Donaldson said he pulled around the meridian on Hwy 6 and returned to the spot he believed was where the collision occurred.
Donaldson pulled up to the edge of the southbound lane and opened his windows. With the headlights of his car, he looked onto the shoulder of the road.
"(The headlights) were shining down on rocks and grass and shrubs."
Donaldson pulled up the road twice, at five yard increments, to see if he could see anything.
Eventually, he pulled up behind the black sports car belonging to the Regehrs, who testified last week for the Crown.
Donaldson said he didn't want to be alone, so he drove onto Hwy 6 the way he had seen his brother-in-law go a few minutes before.
On Highway 6, Donaldson said he pulled over and got out of the car to inspect the damages. He said the door was very difficult to open because it was dented, and also noticed damages to the mirror and hood. Then, he said he placed a phone call to Hlina. During the conversation, they discussed the incident, and Donaldson told Hlina that he thought he might have hit something—he didn't know what. Hlina suggested Donaldson had bumped the black sports car they had both seen on the road.
"It wasn't the car," Donaldson said he told Hlina.
After speaking with Hlina, Donaldson turned to go home. On the way back, he stopped again on Aberdeen Rd where he thought the accident had occurred.
"I parked, had my windows down...I got out. It was dark. I thought I'd better go home and get a flashlight."
That night, Donaldson and his wife said they returned separately to Aberdeen Rd multiple times to see if they could see anything.
"I was walking on the boulders, looking down at the grass," said Donaldson of his visit back to the scene. "I was listening to see if I could hear anything. It was dead silent."
That night, after not finding anything, Donaldson said he began to feel better about the situation.
"We thought it was a large animal that had left," said Donaldson.
But the next morning when Donaldson returned to look in the daylight, he saw police in the area and his optimism evaporated.
"It was probably the worst feeling I've had in my life," said Donaldson. "I started to cry."
Donaldson spoke to the RCMP on the phone, and a woman told him, "You're the one that hit the girl." She told him the police would be at his house soon.
In the 15 minutes between the phone call and his arrest, Donaldson said, "I was watching cartoons with my son... I was sad because I knew it was a person."
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012