Witnesses at careless driving trial say vehicle didn't slow down before fatal collision with senior

·2 min read

As they often did during nicer weather, Wayne and Michael Cherrington were preparing to sit and sip wine from the enclosed balcony of their fourth-storey suite, one night in October 2018.

But their peaceful evening tradition was interrupted by tragedy.

"My God Wayne, she doesn't see them, she's going to hit them," Michael, 78, remembers calling out in the moments before a vehicle hit 85-year-old Doreen French and her daughter in the parking lot of the Heritage Park Towers housing complex in south Edmonton.

French died 12 days later in hospital.

Marion Rickett-Beebee, a nurse who assisted clients in the apartment complex, is accused of careless driving under the provincial Traffic Safety Act. She is not facing criminal charges.

The Cherringtons appeared remotely during the second day of the trial on Wednesday, testifying back-to-back about the events of Oct. 18, 2018.

They say they saw French and her daughter, Patricia Wilton, walk toward the south tower on the roadway of the parking lot. A barricade and pipes were blocking part of the sidewalk at the time.

Wilton said during her testimony Tuesday they were walking to visit a friend in the south tower. They stepped onto the parking lot road to avoid the obstacle — that's when they were hit by an SUV.

Wilton said she suffered a number of injuries, including a broken right femur and a fractured vertebrae.

The Cherringtons said the black SUV did not slow down prior to impact.

"I remember that very distinctly" Wayne, 79, said. "That was my first reaction, to look at the back of that vehicle and see if the brake lights were going to come on.

"They didn't."

'I turned away'

Defence lawyer Darin Slaferek questioned the couple's recollection during cross-examination, referring to the shock of the event, the amount of time that had passed, and conversations since between them.

He pointed out the black SUV must have hit the brakes at some point. Wayne said he did not see the actual moment of impact.

"I turned away," he said.

Slaferek also challenged Michael on her assertion that she could see the driver looking at the passenger's seat and not the road prior to impact, referring to photos taken from her fourth storey suite and the partially-tinted windows on the vehicle.

At one point he asked whether Michael was trying to help her deceased friend and her daughter.

"I'm trying to tell you what I saw the best I can," said Michael, who said there are many details of the day she cannot recount.

"The only thing I can totally and completely remember … is when the car hit those two girls."

The trial is set to continue for the rest of the week.