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Drunk driving trial focuses on who was behind the wheel

A third, unnamed person may have been at the wheel during a collision that killed a man six years ago, a trial was told as it opened on Tuesday.

Nathan Michael Medwid and Preston Clifford Hanson, best friends and roommates, moved from Swan Hills, Man., to seek their fortunes in Alberta’s oilpatch, Crown prosecutor Tony Bell said in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before Justice Monica Bast.

The men were living in Bentley and had gone to Sylvan Lake on the evening of Dec. 4, 2006, to celebrate Nedwid’s purchase of a new car, said Bell.

Nedwid, who was 19, died early the next morning after being ejected from his car when it left the highway and rolled into a field alongside Hwy 20, about five km north of Sylvan Lake.

The Crown’s case alleges that Hanson was driving the car. Hanson is on trial for impaired driving causing death.

Witnesses called to testify on the first day of the trial recalled Hanson giving a variety of versions of who had been driving the car. One account had him sleeping in the back while Nedwid drove. Another placed Nedwid in the front passenger seat while a third person, a young woman picked up at the bar, was at the wheel.

Witnesses who were at the scene testified they saw no indication of a third person in the vehicle.

A recording of Hanson’s call to 911 includes a statement that somebody had picked the driver up in the field and then left for Red Deer.

Communications technician Trevor Mulligan, on his way home to Red Deer after working out of town, said he saw lights in a field and a man standing at the side of the road.

The man, identified as Hanson, said his friend needed help, Mulligan testified.

Hanson was calling 911 while leading the way to the spot where Nedwid lay.

An emergency medical technician who was called to the scene later testified that she recovered a car key that fell out of Hanson’s pocket while he was being admitted to hospital in Red Deer.

The trial continues today and was originally scheduled to take three weeks.

Defence counsel Bob Sawers said the original schedule was made to accommodate a jury trial. However, he and his client later changed the election to judge alone.

Sawers said he anticipates a shorter trial but wants to keep his options open.

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