An RCMP forensic expert testified Thursday at Rituraj Kaur Grewal’s trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster that the accused’s Cadillac was doing 142 km/h in a 60 km/h zone just prior to hitting Travis Selje’s car, killing the Surrey teenager.
Grewal is accused of criminal negligence causing death in the May 3, 2017 crash at the intersection of 64th Avenue and 176th Street in Cloverdale.
Corporal Craig Huitson produced a 39-page investigation report in court and explained how he arrived at that speed.
Huitson is an expert in forensic collision reconstruction.
“I looked at vehicle dynamics, I looked at vehicle damage profiles. I subsequently did a calculation to determine speed from video,” he told the court. “I obtained the event data recorder information from the Cadillac. I then looked at that information, corroborated my speed calculation and provided a report.”
The court heard that video surveillance from a public storage facility across the street from a Shell gas station near the crash site assisted him.
“It was that camera that caught the crash unfolding,” he noted. Using reference points from the peak of a nearby hotel, utility poles, peaks of the gas station, and trees, he was able to identify distances that the vehicle travelled within the video.
“The Cadillac’s right headlight was in line with the illuminated peak on the hotel,” he noted. “The video provided a constant field of view from approximately the west side of the hotel up to almost the entirety of the Shell gas station.
“As the vehicle travels directly in front, I’m able to align the path of the vehicle in line with the tangible points of reference as seen in the video,” he explained. “It kind of sounds complex, it isn’t really.
“I set up a forensic instrument to survey where the camera position is. From there, I looked back at all those various tangible points of reference and shot them all with forensic equipment and from there I was able to ascertain where the vehicle moved across the video.”
That, Huitson told the court, provided him with a scale image and from there he could align parts of the vehicle, as seen in the video, with points of reference “because they don’t move.”
He concluded, based on his calculations – number of frames divided by the frame rate – told him the time.
“It’s basically a distance in time problem. Vehicle travels X number of metres in so many seconds, and that equates to a speed.”
He said he did two calculations, with the first yielding 141 km/h and the second 142 km/h.
“That is an average speed from the point I started in the first frame, to the next frame, and so on and so forth, over that distance, an average speed.”
Huitson noted that the car’s event data recorder is a system that runs in the background and continually monitors vehicle parameters.
“In the event of a crash, it captures the crash data and the last five seconds prior to that,” he told the court. “It can capture a myriad of data from speed, throttle, brakes, steering, yaw rate.”
“There was no evidence of braking that I could see or find,” he told the court, “to indicate that the driver of the vehicle was braking prior to impact.”
The trial continues.