VERNON - A man has been found guilty of hitting a North Okanagan firefighter with his truck.
Ian Douglas Burns, 28, was convicted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection with the June 26, 2013 incident this week in Vernon Provincial Court.
The victim, Stephan Hidasi, a firefighter with the BX/Swan Lake Fire Department, was walking up a forest service road investigating a possible forest fire in the Hartnell Road area of Vernon when he noticed a pick-up truck next to a bonfire.
While he was using his cell phone to update responding firefighters that it wasn’t a wildfire, the truck began driving toward him at about 5-10 km/hr, Provincial Court Judge Mark Takahashi said.
“It did not occur to him the truck would drive into him. By the time he (realized) that, it was too late,” Takahashi said.
Hidasi jumped away at the last second, but was struck on his hand, hip and forearm, spinning him around a quarter turn. He pushed the side view mirror in to prevent it from hitting his head, Takahashi said.
Hidasi — who landed on his feet after being struck — chased after the driver and banged on the vehicle. Fire chief Bill Wacey ended up blocking the road with his truck to stop the vehicle.
Takahashi accepted Hidasi’s account of what happened, but was less convinced by the accused's. He said Burns’ testimony was inconsistent and contradictory, casting doubt over his evidence. For example, Burns first testified he’d had 4-5 beers but wasn’t overly feeling the effects. Pressed under cross-examination, he admitted he’d had too much to drink and shouldn’t have been driving, Takahashi said.
Given the low speed, Takahashi said Burns had every opportunity to apply the brakes and avoid the collision, but instead, kept driving, even though there wasn’t enough room on the road to go around the pedestrian.
“This was a low speed, completely avoidable collision,” Takahashi said.
The judge said Burns’ driving put Hidasi’s life and safety in real danger and added the firefighter is still recovering from his injuries.
Lawyers will reconvene Oct. 7 to set a date for sentencing.
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