A Langley man who said he didn’t realize he hit a 62-year-old pedestrian with his truck has won his case.
The written reasons for the March 12 decision by Justice Robert Jenkins were posted online.
During three days of hearings in January at the New Westminster courthouse, an eyewitness who was driving with his car window open described hearing a “great big thump” and a smash that evening.
That was when a pickup truck and a trailer driven by Davis hit 62-year-old Darrel Campbell, causing multiple injuries that required a hospital stay of several months. Campbell has no memory of the accident, the judgment said.
Following the crash, the eyewitness followed the truck when it left the scene until it was parked and reported the location to a 911 operator.
Davis said he thought he’d hit a pothole.
He said his seven-year-old son was in the passenger seat at the time, and was playing a “distracting” game on his cell phone, which led Davis to turn up the volume of the truck radio.
He said he did not see Campbell crossing the road in front of him.
When he arrived at his Brookswood home, Davis said he was “shocked” to see the the fender was dented and the light had been smashed.
“… something had happened,” Davis testified.
“I (didn’t) know if I hit something. I just knew something had happened.”
Davis testified that he took his son from the truck, went in his house, put his son to bed and went to sit with his wife when there was a knock at his door.
An RCMP officer put Davis under arrest.
The officer testified that Davis said “did I hit someone?” when he saw the officer and made other comments after he was arrested that suggested he knew what had happened, including “I got scared,” “they came out of nowhere,” “I was just about to call the cops,” and “I hit somebody.”
The judge said the question “Did I hit someone?” could be asked by someone who knew they were in a collision and chose to drive away without stopping to see what they hit, but it could also be asked by someone who discovered their vehicle damaged on returning home and encountered the police at his door shortly afterward.
Most of the other comments made by Davis could have have been the result of realizing after the fact that a collision with a pedestrian had taken place, the judge said.
The “most troubling” statement, Justice Jenkins said, was “they came out of nowhere.”
“It is difficult to think of a reasonable explanation for this statement that does not lead to an inference of knowledge.”
But it is not clear who the “they” referred to are, the judge said, and while it could be a reference to the person struck, it could also be a reference to the police or his trailer brakes.
“Mr. Davis’ testimony is compelling, his explanations for his actions on the day of the collision are reasonable,” the judge stated.
“While I do not necessarily accept all of Mr. Davis’ evidence, I do find it raises a reasonable doubt as to whether he knew he had been in a collision when he drove away from the scene.”