In the summer of 2018, Paul Knight and his wife Michelle were vacationing in the South Okanagan from the UK when they were involved in a head-on crash in Oliver.
The couple had been exploring South Okanagan on a Harley Davidson when, on July 14, a Toyota Corolla crossed the centre line on Highway 97. It sideswiped another vehicle before colliding with the Knights head on. The crash took Paul’s life and severely injured his wife.
Nearly three years later, the trial of Daerio John Romeo began Tuesday in Penticton Supreme Court.
Romeo is charged with dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
At the time of the crash, RCMP told the Western News that the three-vehicle incident near Road 18 happened around 2:45 p.m.
The driver of the motorcycle, Paul Knight, died on the way to hospital, while the passenger, Michelle, was in critical condition at the time. In court, Crown said the pair were ejected from the bike. Michelle suffered a fractured vertebrae, pelvis and femur.
According to a UK newspaper, Paul, 64, was a popular dentist, a father of three children and grandfather to two.
Romeo was trapped in his Toyota Corolla and had to be cut out by the Jaws of Life, the court heard on Tuesday.
The charges against Romeo weren’t filed until May 2019.
Crown counsel outlined its case to the courts, explaining that on July 14, 2018, Romeo was seen driving erratically by several witnesses between Keremeos and Oliver before his vehicle crossed the centre line on Highway 97 into the path of a motorcycle.
On Tuesday, a Keremeos RCMP officer who interacted with Romeo 45 minutes prior to the crash testified. Crown will also call a witness who videotaped Romeo’s erratic driving on Highway 3, before the crash took place. She called 911 about the driving behaviour as well.
That was when Romeo is alleged to have been driving his Toyota Corolla on Highway 3 towards Oliver.
Less than 40 minutes later, the driver of a pickup driving southbound on Highway 97 from Oliver saw the Corolla cross the centre line, coming straight for him, said Crown.
The Corolla side-swiped his truck and hit the bike. The truck driver is expected to testify that the Knights were right behind him on their motorcycle. The pickup truck managed to swerve mostly out of the way.
A collision reconstructionist is also expected to testify that Romeo’s operation of his vehicle caused death and bodily harm, said Crown.
Romeo is not a stranger to the courts.
Following this crash in 2018, he has faced several new charges including theft under $5,000 in various communities, including Abbotsford and Vancouver.
The trial continues.