The Surrey woman on trial for criminal negligence causing death for the May 3, 2017 traffic crash that killed 17-year-old Travis Selje testified Friday that she has epilepsy and “I believe my seizure caused the accident.”
Rituraj Kaur Grewal was driving her dad’s black sedan Cadillac when it slammed into Selje’s car at 142 km/h, at 176th Street and 64th Avenue in Surrey. She was 22 years old at the time of the crash. She is now age 26.
“I think the court should know,” she said, that whenever she passes by Selje’s roadside memorial near the crash site, when her parents drive her to work, “I do pray for him and his family every time I go and I feel terrible about this accident.”
Selje’s death tore a hole in the community. The 1,095-seat Cloverdale Baptist Church was filled to capacity on May 17, 2017 as mourners celebrated the straight-A honour roll student and up-and-coming soccer star’s life.
According to his obituary, Selje was in the Whitecaps residency program and in 2016 he returned to the Surrey United SC U16/U18 squad while also being a member of Team BC Soccer, with which he was to go to the Canada Games in August 2017.
Grewal told the court she doesn’t recall weaving in and out of traffic, or speeding, and has “no recollection at all” of the fatal crash.
Her trial is being heard at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Asked if she was trying to commit suicide, Grewal replied “absolutely not.” Asked if she used any drugs or alcohol on the day of the crash, she replied “absolutely not.”
Asked about the presence of oxycodone in her blood, Grewal said she used it on the weekend prior to the crash, which happened on the following Wednesday night. Why was she using oxycodone? “I used it for my excruciating painful migraine at the moment,” Grewal said. “I have used it occasionally.”
What about the “crack pipe” police found in her jacket pocket? “A few weeks before the accident I was using it to smoke Cannabis oil,” Grewal told the court.
Grewal lives in East Newton with her parents. She grew up in Surrey, and graduated from Panorama Ridge secondary in 2012. After that, she attended Trinity Western University, where she did her first year in general studies. From there, she pursued a career in dental hygiene in Toronto.
She said she was active in soccer and ice hockey while attending university, playing on a varsity team at TWU. She said she played soccer since she was in Grade 1. She told the court she suffered “a few” concussions along the way.
She now works as a registered dental hygienist. She told the court she does not have a criminal record. Subsequent to the fatal crash, she said, she was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2018.
She said she was on her way to see a friend in Cloverdale at the time of the crash. Grewal said that prior to the 2017 crash she never experienced convulsions, tremors or seizures while driving.
She told the court that on the day of the crash she’d been “hanging out” with her parents and her dog, watching TV and they had “KFC” for dinner. She left home just before 9 p.m. and had been feeling well, she said.
Grewal told the court she remembers driving up a hill, and then nothing after that.
She did not know she had been in a crash, she said.
The court heard witness testimony earlier in the week that after the crash Grewal was screaming and trying to punch the Cadillac’s airbag.
“I do remember being extremely frightened and scared,” she said. “I was very confused, I had no idea what was going on.”