Collision analyst testifies on ‘interesting intersection’ in Major trial
A defence witness testified Tuesday that the intersection where a fatal crash happened had many changes in elevation, calling it an “interesting intersection.”
Robert Major’s defence team of Mark Brayford and Brian Pfefferle called their second witness in the trial, retired Saskatoon Police Service collision reconstructionist Malcolm Gibson. Gibson is now a partner in a collision reconstruction company.
He recorded videos from a pick-up truck similar to the one Major was driving on Feb. 22, 2016.
Gibson took the court through the two videos, testifying at what distances he could see reflective signs on the highway as well as the stop sign.
The stop sign at the intersection of Highway 16 and Grid Road 3083 was knocked down a few days before the crash, according to an agreed statement of facts. Major testified on Monday that he was looking for a stop sign as he and six other passengers including his nephew, girlfriend, coworker and two young sons drove northbound towards Highway 16.
Gibson testified he could see the stop sign reflecting back at him 2,300 feet away, allowing him plenty of time to reduce his speed and stop before heading into the intersection.
Gibson also noted several elevation changes leading up to the highway and on Highway 16 between the eastbound lanes, the median and the westbound lanes. The elevation on the grid road was higher than the intersection, he said.
“It was anything but a flat intersection.”
Gibson’s report said the distance at which he could see the highway was 90 metres. Reflective signs on the highway as well as a ‘No Exit’ sign on the north side of the highway could also be seen.
Crown lawyer Michael Pilon pressed Gibson about the timing of his attempt to recreate the crash. In his testimony Gibson said he recorded the videos Jan. 17, 2019; Pilon said a crash from three years ago couldn’t be recreated.
Pilon also argued that Gibson’s report that he could see the highway at 90 metres coupled with a driver’s typical reaction time would have left Major with 11.5 seconds to step on the brake and slow down before entering the highway.
Gibson replied that while he could see the edge of the highway at 90 metres, Major would have needed to be closer to be sure.
The Crown’s collision reconstructionist, retired Cpl. Douglas Green, had previously testified Major braked 1.5 seconds before the crash; Green noted he could see the stop sign at 130 metres.
“He’s already on the highway before he hits the brake,” Pilon said. Had Major braked after seeing the stop sign at 90 metres, the truck would have stopped 33.33 metres earlier, he said.
“That gives (Major) 56.76 metres before the highway, his foot should be on the brake.”
Gibson also told Pilon he didn’t measure changes in elevation; Green’s report outlines the level changes were 0.5 per cent on Highway 16 to the west and 0.2 per cent to the north
Pilon asked Gibson if the absence of a stop sign had anything to do with Major deciding to travel 137 kilometres per hour down an icy, snow-covered road, and whether the absence of a stop sign had anything to do with Major not securing his sons in car seats, instead having them both sitting in the front seats.
Gibson answered both questions with a quiet “no.”
Major faces 12 charges of negligence and dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm. He was behind the wheel of a black Dodge Ram with six other passengers when he crossed onto Highway 16 and T-boned a semi-trailer.
Three people died in the crash including Major’s 26-year-old girlfriend Kimberly Oliverio and two of Major’s sons, Brendan and Theodore.
Major’s nephew who survived the crash broke both his legs and collarbone.
Closing arguments are set for Wednesday.