The scene of a serious crash on Highway 33 in Kelowna that killed one and severely injured two others on June 20, 2018. (File)

The scene of a serious crash on Highway 33 in Kelowna that killed one and severely injured two others on June 20, 2018. (File)

Trial begins for driver accused of fatal 2018 Highway 33 crash in Kelowna

An officer who pursued the vehicle said he saw the occupants of the car ejected upon impact

The trial for the Kelowna man accused of causing a fatal Highway 33 crash in 2018 started on Monday, Nov. 30.

Travis Ryan Hennessy is facing one count of dangerous driving causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm related to the June 20, 2018 incident which allegedly saw him speed down the highway at more than 100 km/h before smashing into a concrete fence.

All four occupants of the vehicle, including Hennessy, were transported to the hospital after the crash. One of the passengers died in hospital from their injuries.

The crash left a stretch of the highway closed for much of the day. Debris was scattered across the road from the impact.

B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), investigated the incident, as an officer had been following Hennessy at the time of the crash. That officer was cleared of any responsibility for the injuries by the IIO, but he was called to take the stand on the first day of trial.

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Const. Conrad Erbes told the court he was doing his regular patrol of the Rutland area late that night, when he saw a vehicle quickly turn onto Highway 33 from Hollywood Road North, possibly striking a median in the process, before continuing westbound at a high rate of speed.

Erbes said the small silver coupe nearly doubled the 60 km/h speed limit on that stretch of the highway and was swerving back and forth into empty oncoming lanes. He said the car began to lose control and it eventually disappeared from his vision.

“At this point, a giant cloud of dust takes over the field of view where I was looking,” he stated.

The vehicle continued for a short distance spinning, Erbes said, ejecting both debris and the occupants of the car.

Erbes then approached the scene as the vehicle came to a stop when he said he saw a “white figure,” possibly somebody wearing a white shirt, step out of the car. The figure was stumbling in a hurried manner, but appeared injured, Erbes said.

“Because there’s a little bit of a dust cloud still, it looks to me as though it could be a ghost,” he said. Hennessy’s defence lawyer Donna Turko asked for clarification and Erbes maintained that it looked like a ghost.

Later, Erbes said he did find a man, one of the occupants of the car, wearing a white shirt.

Erbes called for first responders and back up from a nearby officer. He found four people on the scene, with varying degrees of injury.

All were later transported to the hospital.

Hennessy’s trial is anticipated to continue for the next three weeks.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


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