Acoording to the testimony of an ex-cop, a young man who was at the wheel of a truck that struck and killed another driver admitted just moments after the devastating crash he had been on his cellphone.
Ken Graham, 40, told court he had slowed with other traffic for roadwork on Dugald Road around 8 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2011 when he saw a truck coming right at him in his rearview mirror.
He said he swerved to the right and looked left to see the truck swerve into oncoming traffic — narrowly missing him but slamming into a Dodge Neon.
"I thought he was actually going to hit me — it was that close," Graham said.
The truck became airborne and landed on its side. Graham said he got out and approached the driver.
"I said, 'What was going on — what were you doing?'," he testified. "The only thing he said to me: 'I was on my cellphone,'" said Graham.
Graham identified Vann Ray Hansell in court as the driver of the truck.
Hansell, 22, has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including criminal negligence causing the death of the Neon's driver, Mark Derry, 53. He's also accused of being impaired by alcohol at the time of the crash.
Graham testified it was a warm and sunny evening and there were no visibility issues.
He was able to see blinking lights of some kind of construction or repair crew up ahead as he drove along Dugald, he said. He did not remember, however, seeing any road-work related signs on the side of the road.
The fatal crash happened as a City of Winnipeg water works crew was finishing up work on a water main near Goodyear Avenue. Traffic was halted from passing in the eastbound lane and westbound traffic had just begun moving again after a brief stoppage.
Derry was just passing through the zone at a slow speed when he was struck, court has heard.
Crew member Leonard Forlanski testified he heard a "big bang" and turned to see a cloud of dust and a truck on its side. The driver "crawled out" through the door of the upended truck, Forlanski said.
Hansell was clearly shaken up, stumbling about as bystanders tried to calm him.
"He more or less said it was his fault, he was texting," said Forlanski. The driver also said he wanted to help the person in the car he'd just hit.
He was "very, very concerned" about Derry, Forlanski agreed. Derry suffered major injuries and died in hospital hours later.