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Arens trial hears from victim’s sister

Ever since the tragedy that took her brother’s life, Stephanie Chanminaraj always thinks about what she could have done differently.

Stephanie Chanminaraj, 24, was driving at the time of the crash that killed her 13-year-old brother Anouluk “Jeffrey.”

“You think about what you could have done differently,” she tearfully said.

She and her other brother Jamie, 22, took the stand on Friday in the trial of Rodney Ross Arens, 36, who is accused of causing the crash. The trial wrapped up its second week with testimony from the siblings, who were in the car allegedly hit by Arens’ vehicle on July 1, 2010 crash.

Arens is on trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before Justice Kirk Sisson. He is represented by defence counsel Donna Derie-Gillespie of Sundre.

Stephanie and Jamie and Jeffrey were driving down to Bower Ponds for the Canada Day fireworks when the collision occurred. Jeffrey was killed and Jamie suffered two fractured femurs and a fractured hand. They were travelling south on Taylor Drive from Horwath Street and were turning left onto Kerry Wood Drive when the collision occurred.

Neither Stephanie nor Jamie remembered much of the collision. Jamie’s recollection stopped at the top of the Taylor Drive hill, when it intersects with 60th Street.

Stephanie’s memory of the collision ends when she saw headlights coming at the car. The next thing she remembered was glass in her mouth, turning to see her brother, opening her door and screaming for help.

“Everything seemed quieter than it should have been,” she said.

A woman came and held her hand and Stephanie asked her to get a hold of her dad and boyfriend. They didn’t learn about the collision until the following morning as both had turned their cellphones off to sleep.

Stephanie was then taken to the ambulance with only one shoe on. She was put on a stretcher and in a neck brace, but she wasn’t seriously hurt.

She said she has tried to avoid the intersection ever since the crash.

It had been a busy day for the family, who were also celebrating their father’s birthday. After cake and dinner, Stephanie went home to change and came back to pick up her brothers to go to the Canada fireworks, something they tried to do every year.

Jamie didn’t want to go to the fireworks, instead wanting to play video games, but Stephanie made sure he came with her and Jeffrey.

Derie-Gillespie asked Stephanie if she knew if her insurance company had paid her for the damage to her car as well as to Arens for his truck’s damage. Stephanie did not know.

Derie-Gillespie said the question related to finding out if Stephanie had been found at fault under civil criteria. The trial focuses on determining if Arens was at fault under criminal criteria.

Jamie testified he had very little recollection of the crash. He remembered being at the top of the hill and the next thing he remembered was waking up in Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.

“They said I hit my head pretty hard on the window,” he testified.

The trial is expected to run nine weeks. It will resume next Friday where testimony is expected to come from a traffic collision analyst.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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