Driver showed clear signs of impairment after crash, testifies witness at Arens trial

Eyewitnesses continue to testify to the apparently intoxicated state of a man accused of causing a fatal collision in Red Deer on Canada Day, 2010.

Eyewitnesses continue to testify to the apparently intoxicated state of a man accused of causing a fatal collision in Red Deer on Canada Day, 2010.

Rodney Ross Arens was arrested and charged after a pickup truck collide with a small car at the intersection of Kerry Wood and Taylor Drives, just before the evening’s firework display was to start.

Arens, 36, 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.

In testimony on Wednesday, witness Kevin Holt, also of Sundre, said he was in the left-turn lane on Taylor Drive northbound and was getting impatient with the traffic lights. Holt, 23, said he was thinking about a change in course and had nosed his van into the through lane when he saw a pickup truck coming from behind him in the same lane. He said he had just tucked back into his spot in the turning lane when he heard the noise from the accelerating truck and then saw it speed by. He said the truck entered the intersection and struck a southbound car that was waiting to turn left onto eastbound Kerry Wood Drive. The car had just started to move forward when the two vehicles collided, said Holt.

He said he got out of his van and walked over to the car, where he saw someone sitting on the trunk and holding the head of a young man who had come partway out of the back window.

Looking toward the pickup truck, which had spun out of control and come to rest facing south on Taylor, he saw the driver get out and walk around to check the damage at the front, and then return to the driver’s side door.

Holt said the driver appeared uninjured, but showed clear signs of impairment, stumbling as he exited the truck and holding onto the hood and fender to steady himself as he moved around the vehicle.

“He had to keep leaning on the truck to keep from falling over,” Holt testified while being questioned by Crown prosecutor Robin Snider.

Holt’s girlfriend, Alycia Rabe, was riding in the front passenger seat of his van. She described for Snider an eerie silence that fell immediately after the crash.

“It seemed like everything went stunned. Even the sound of the air — everything went quiet.”

Rabe, 17 at the time of the crash, said she stayed in the car with her and Holt’s infant daughter while he and two friends who were travelling with them went over to check the people in the car.

“It just happened so fast,” she said.

“It seemed like it (the truck) was speeding through an intersection and trying to race a red light — racing against a yellow light when you’re supposed to be slowing down,” she said when cross-examined by Derie-Gillespie.

Arens is in the second week of his trial, on charges including dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death and multiple counts of refusing to provide a breath sample to police investigating a fatal or injury collision.

The trial is scheduled to run until mid-June, with a number of adjournments to accommodate other processes.