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Driver was speeding when he struck sisters in fatal Central Saanich crash, court hears

Anthony Thomas on trial for impaired driving causing death and bodily harm
Anthony Thomas is charged in the death of a 51-year-old pedestrian who was struck while walking along Central Saanich Road in August 2018. He is on trial at the Victoria courthouse. (Black Press Media file photo)

Anthony Thomas was going at least 11 km/h over the speed limit when he collided with two pedestrians on Central Saanich Road in 2018, a collision analyst testified in Victoria Law Courts Thursday.

Thomas is on trial for a slew of impaired driving charges in connection with the death of Kim Ward, 51, and critical injury of her sister Tracy Ward, then 48.

Speaking nearly two weeks into Thomas’ trial Thursday, now retired Saanich Police Department sergeant Alan Gurzinski said he used two different formulas to determine the vehicle’s pre-collision speed.

The first estimated the vehicle – a red Jeep – was going a minimum of 61 km/h, while the second estimated it was going between 66 and 84 km/h in the moments before the sisters were struck. Both calculations put it above Central Saanich Road’s limit of 50 km/h.

The court was also presented with an agreed statement of facts Thursday. In it, the prosecution and defence agreed that on the evening of Aug. 27, 2018 Anthony Thomas collided with Kim and Tracy Ward while driving a red Jeep Cherokee. Kim was pronounced dead at the scene while Tracy was taken to hospital with critical injuries, many of which, such as partial paralysis, remain with her today.

The weather was clear, the roads were in good repair and dry, and the Jeep had no damage or defects that contributed to the collision, both lawyers agreed. And, two pills identified as benzodiazepines, which aren’t legally sold in Canada, were found within a bag in the vehicle.

READ ALSO: Eyewitness testifies in impaired driving trial that left woman dead in Central Saanich

Earlier in the week, several eyewitnesses provided details on the crash itself.

John Pennington, a Central Saanich resident, was driving home from Sidney with his family on the night of the crash. Headed south directly behind a red Jeep, Pennington remembered watching the vehicle veer across the two-lane road onto the opposite shoulder.

“The car continued straight at an angle right at the pedestrians and collided with them,” Pennington testified.

His son Christopher Pennington, who was in the backseat of the car, didn’t see the pedestrians get struck, but ran to the scene of the crash as soon as his dad pulled over.

Christopher said he arrived at the driver’s side of the Jeep right as a young man was getting out of the vehicle, and immediately asked him if he was OK.

“He didn’t respond to me, he just had these big blank eyes, not focused,” Christopher said. He said the man didn’t respond to several more questions, but began walking in a circle on the shoulder of the road.

Figuring he wasn’t badly injured, Christopher turned to look elsewhere. That’s when he saw a motionless woman behind the driver’s side of the Jeep.

“She wasn’t moving and wasn’t breathing. I checked her pulse and couldn’t find (one),” Christopher told the court.

READ ALSO: More details emerge about fatal pedestrian crash in Central Saanich

Next, he went to a second woman lying in the middle of the road.

“She was in very rough shape,” Christopher recalled. But she was breathing, so Christopher talked to her until a paramedic arrived. Together, the two men turned the woman on her side to help clear her airways of fluid.

More emergency services began to arrive and Christopher said he got out of their way. He told the court he remembered then looking across the road, back to where he said the driver was hunched over staring at the deceased woman.

As the driver looked down at the woman, Christopher said the man suddenly yelled “Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhh!” for about 30 seconds before falling silent again.

“He was out of it,” Christopher told the court.

The deceased woman was soon identified as Kim Ward. She was a massage therapist with Triathlon Canada, where she worked the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Summer Olympics.

The trial for Thomas continues Friday.

READ ALSO: Sisters identified in fatal Central Saanich crash

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