Penticton’s B.C. Supreme Court chambers on Main Street. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Trial takes off for alleged drunk driving crash near Penticton

Joseph S.D. Giroux is accused of drunk driving, crashing into a senior couple in August 2015

After a crash with an allegedly drunk driver, 82-year-old Joyce Bibby says her arthritis escalated to the point where she can hardly walk anymore.

Joyce’s husband, Raymond, 74, had been driving up a hill along Beaverdell Road in August 2015 when a white car reportedly came careening around a corner, drifting into their lane, a B.C. Supreme Court justice heard this week.

The couple both testified to the court this week that they were taking a scenic route on their way to Okanagan Falls to get ice cream at Tickleberry’s when the crash occurred.

Joseph S.D. Giroux is charged with one count each of impaired driving causing bodily harm and causing an accident resulting in bodily harm for the crash on Aug. 16, 2015.

The husband and wife each testified that the skies were clear the day of the crash. Under pressure in cross-examination from defence lawyer Michael Patterson, Raymond remained steadfast that the gravel road had not been wet that day.

“I’m very observant of what I’m driving towards,” he said, adding he had been looking out for a wet road after questioned by Patterson. “I watch the road everytime I’m driving.”

As the two approached the hill, Joyce estimated the couple had been driving at around 15 or 20 km/h. To their right, Raymond told the court there was a significant drop-off from the road, and so he had been driving carefully to avoid the fall.

But they each reported to see a white vehicle coming down the hill at a considerable speed — estimated to be around 60 or 70 km/h by Joyce, who said the vehicle was sending rocks flying out of its path — and entering their side of the road.

The white vehicle had lost control and turned sideways, and hit the front of the elderly couple’s vehicle, the Bibbys told the court.

Asked whether he did anything to avoid the crash, Raymond said it had happened too fast to react — “like that — snap of the fingers,” Joyce said in her testimony — and that the only real way to avoid the car would have been to turn off the drop-off of the road.

“(It was) pretty scary. As soon as he was turned sideways, I knew he was going to hit us,” Joyce said. “He just came at us so fast.”

After they were hit by the car, Joyce told the court her husband was able to get out, and assist her with getting out as well.

“The first thing Raymond said: ‘Get out of the car; it’s on fire.’ It wasn’t on fire, it was just smoke from the air bags,” she said, adding the white car had been lying on its driver’s side.

The two walked down the hill from the crash, when a young woman drove up and called emergency crews.

“(Raymond) was quite calm. I was surprised. He was doing better than me. I just naturally wanted to cry,” Joyce said, adding she had “very bad bruises from my toes to my shoulders.”

Her husband, she said, had been having trouble walking, and a gash on top of his head, which would ultimately need to be stapled shut, was bleeding down his face and onto his clothing.

Joyce said she was able to take some pictures of the crash from the young woman’s vehicle, where they were able to sit and wait for emergency crews. Upon arrival, crews used the jaws of life to get the driver, identified as Giroux, out of the white vehicle. He was loaded into an ambulance and taken away.

Meanwhile, the Bibbys’ vehicle was totalled, and Joyce’s arthritis had accelerated since the crash, which she attributed to the crash. At the time of the crash, she was only using her walker, but since then she said she can hardly walk, only occasionally using the walker, but relying more on an electric scooter.

Giroux’s trial is set to run through to Thursday, before adjourning to next week for another Crown witness who was not able to attend court this week.

The defence is also applying through a voir dire (a trial within a trial to determine eligibility of evidence) to have some evidence struck, including a blood test that was taken from Giroux.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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