'Help me, help me' crash victim pleaded
Pembroke dentist Dr. Christy Natsis exits the Ottawa Courthouse with her lawyer Michael Edelson following the first day of her trial for impaired driving causing death, Tuesday. For more community photos please visit our website photo gallery at www.thedailyobserver.ca.
Anne Lavoie settled into her cross-examination with the calm acceptance of a long-haul trucker heading from Beloeil, QC to Thunder Bay.
Which was exactly what she was doing on March 31, 2011 when she came across the deadly crash where Bryan Casey lost his life on Highway 17 near Arnprior.
That crash led to dangerous and drunk driving charges against prominent Pembroke dentist Dr. Christy Natsis — and to Lavoie appearing in the witness box for the trial.
She was the second target so far for defence lawyer Michael Edelson’s Chinese water torture style of cross-examination — a relentless drip, drip, drip of deceptively innocent and simple questions.
During her full day of testimony, Lavoie’s patience never wavered, her concentration never waned and her good humour remained intact — like when Edelson asked if she’d encountered another witness in a hotel.
“Not in his room,” he added hastily.
“In the hall,” Lavoie said with a mischievous expression.
She was a passenger in the truck at the time of crash, just barely into the 1,700 km trek to Thunder Bay.
Stopping at the crash site, she went to Casey’s damaged white pickup.
“Help me,” he asked her.
“I just called for help, they’re on their way,” she told him.
“He just said the same thing again, to help him,” she said.
She arrived at the scene just two minutes after losing sight of a black SUV that blew past her on the highway, driving erratically.
It was the same SUV, she said, that was involved in the fatal crash.
Standing face to face with the female driver, Lavoie could smell alcohol on her breath.
Lavoie acknowledged that she lost sight of the speeding SUV before she came to the crash site and she couldn’t be sure — as Edelson asked — if there was a highway on-ramp in between.
Edelson noted that the statement she gave to police the night of the crash omitted details she told the court, like her testimony that the woman in the SUV was staggering as she walked.
Lavoie said she told police “everything that I had in my memory – even though I was nervous.”
Judge Neil Kozloff commended Lavoie before she stepped down.
“It’s nice to know there are people like you around,” he said.