Street racing trial sees crash scene photos

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A Crown attorney alleged Tyler Downs was street racing on the 10th Street East hill Feb. 7, 2017, before collisions that damaged three vehicles and seriously injured Downs and a passenger in his car.

Andrea Camilletti, a Grey County assistant Crown attorney, made her opening remarks on the first day of the young man's five-day jury trial in the Superior Court of Justice in Owen Sound.

Downs, 18, of Hepworth at the time, pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal negligence while street racing causing bodily harm, and to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while street racing causing bodily harm. Both charges say Downs' friend Nick Heinzer, 18, of Hepworth at the time of the collision, was the victim.

Camilletti outlined the Crown's case and some of the issues and evidence the jury should expect to hear.

She also echoed Justice Clayton Conlan's remarks to the jury, that what the lawyers say is not itself evidence to be considered by the jury.

Camilletti is alleging Downs "entered into a street race with another driver. As the race continued, Mr. Downs crossed into the oncoming lanes of traffic and struck an unrelated SUV vehicle, and then a cargo truck."

Downs and a front passenger in the vehicle, Heinzer, were "seriously injured."

Camilletti said the jury will hear from some of the young occupants of the two vehicles in the alleged race, from a passenger in a white Lexus SUV that was struck and from the driver of the cargo truck that was also struck.

Police investigators, including a collision reconstructionist, will testify, including about data stored by Downs' red Malibu car and by the white SUV.

Witnesses will say it was cold, sunny and dry that day between 9th and 5th avenues east along 10th Street East hill, part of the main east-west arterial road in the city, the Crown said.

Downs had driven from high school that morning in a 2007 red Chevrolet Malibu, with Heinzer in the front passenger seat and another male friend in the back behind Heinzer. Around 11 a.m. they'd just dropped off another friend in the area.

They were travelling along 7th Avenue East when Downs turned left, or westbound, onto 10th Street East down the hill. Almost at the same time, Dylen Bridge, 19, of RR 2 Shallow Lake, driving a black Kia Rio, turned right onto 10th Street East, also westbound.

Bridge had just picked up three young women at their nearby high school. Bridge had cut through the back parking lot of the Julie McArthur Regional Recreation Centre "where Dylen had spun his vehicle in circles, doing doughnuts," Camilletti told the jury.

"As he exited the YMCA, his black Kia ended up directly across 10th Street East facing Mr. Downs' red Malibu as both vehicles turned into their lanes to head down the 10th Street hill.

"I expect you will hear that there was some kind of exchange between the two vehicles, a look or an arm gesture or some cheering, that the Crown suggests was the start of a race.

"Both Mr. Downs in the left lane and Dylen Bridge in the right or curb lane were accelerating, attempting to match speeds well above the 50-kilometre per hour speed limit."

Each had the lead at times in a short span of road, Camilletti said. She said the jury will hear Bridge made a comment about the race and then passed Downs on the right and changed lanes, "placing his black Kia in front of Mr. Downs" red Malibu.

"Dylen Bridge slowed his vehicle by braking and then continued down the hill, where he exited 10th Street East, turning onto a side street."

After Bridge passed in front of Downs' vehicle, "Downs braked, he veered right and then left towards oncoming traffic in the eastbound lanes . . . ." Downs' car started to spin, its front end striking a white Lexus SUV, then it struck the front of a cargo truck.

The Malibu came to rest up against the front, driver's side of the cargo truck.

Downs and Heinzer were taken first to Owen Sound hospital then airlifted, one to hospital in London and one to a Toronto hospital.

The jury looked until the early afternoon at more than 100 crash scene photographs taken by three police officers. They showed significant damage to Downs' red Malibu, driver's-side damage to the SUV and front-end damage to the cargo truck.

The Malibu's roof was off because, city police Const. Carlo Obillos testified, he understood firefighters took it off the extricate the victims.

Owen Sound lawyer Doug Grace, who represents Downs, in brief cross-examination, learned from Obillos that there were no driveways or entry points onto the span of 10th Street East at the extremities of the crash scene which he photographed.

When the jury came in, an alternate juror replaced a woman on the jury because she hadn't mentioned something concerning a relative when she was picked for jury duty. Conlan said that after hearing from the lawyers "it was safer to replace you."

The trial is scheduled to continue through Friday.




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