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Thomas Whittle told police he wasn’t driving the machine when it collided with a taxi, killing Justyn Pollard at Humber Valley Resort in 2017
Thomas Whittle will decide Thursday whether or not he will take the stand at his trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in Corner Brook.
Whittle, of Conception Bay South, is charged in connection with the death of in a snowmobile accident at the Humber Valley Resort in February 2017.
Pollard was from St. John’s and was 21 when the snowmobile he was on with Whittle crashed into a taxi coming across the bridge at the resort.
Whittle is charged with impaired driving by alcohol causing death, impaired driving causing death with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 80 milligrams, dangerous driving causing death and impaired driving by drug causing death.
- Taxi driver takes the stand in trial of man charged in fatal snowmobile accident at Humber Valley Resort
- Crown contends choices made by Thomas Whittle led to Justyn Pollard’s death in snowmobile accident near Humber Valley Resort
On Wednesday morning, the Crown called its final two witnesses, including Const. Paul Canning, the RCMP’s lead investigator on the case.
Canning told the court he became involved in the investigation on Feb. 20, 2017, the day after the accident.
Canning said he attended the autopsy conducted on Pollard that day. Reading from a registration-of-death document obtained from the medical examiner’s office in Corner Brook, Canning said the cause of death was listed as head injury and snowmobile accident.
Canning later visited Whittle at the hospital and took a witness statement, and the audio recording was played in the court.
When asked about the details of the crash, Whittle is heard saying, “It’s all a grey area, but I can remember seeing headlights and they were close, so I tried to veer off to the side of the road as much as I could, but it wasn’t enough.”
Asked who was on the snowmobile, Whittle said he wasn’t sure of the man’s name and that he was sitting in front of him and that the man, Pollard, was driving. Whittle said he had his hands at the centre of the steering column and Pollard was operating the machine.
But right before the snowmobile hit the taxi, Whittle said, he veered off to try to avoid the crash.
He told the officer he showed Pollard the controls in the driveway of a chalet and that he put his hands at the centre of the handlebars just in case anything happened.
“And obviously it did,” he said.
He said Pollard’s hands were in the regular position on the throttle and the brake, and, again, that his own hands were in the centre.
Later in the audio recording, Whittle said Pollard had never been on a snowmobile before and he wanted to drive it.
Whittle's voice broke with emotion as he says he sat in front because he knew he could get at the machine’s kill switch.
Asked if he had anything else to add, Whittle again sounded emotional and says, “I just want to try to let everyone know I tried to get the two of us off the f---ing road.”
Crown attorney Renee Coates also questioned Canning about video that showed the snowmobile as it went by the security building at the resort.
He described an image taken from that video, and tendered as an exhibit, showing two people on the snowmobile, with the person in front holding the handlebars and the person on the back holding the waist of the driver.
On cross-examination, Whittle asked Canning that at the time of the interview whether it looked like he — Whittle — was in any discomfort post-surgery.
Canning responded that Whittle was obviously in discomfort, with a brace on his leg.
“But I believe that you understood the questions I was asking you and you seemed like you were not impaired by any drug.”
Whittle also asked if his saying he was in pain would sound an alarm for Canning bell that there may have been painkillers used post-surgery.
“As I questioned you, you seemed to be speaking normally," Canning replied. "You didn’t seem like you were under influence of any drugs and you answered my questions clearly.”
The bulk of the afternoon session was spent with the jury absent as the court dealt with an application related to the trial.
Justice George Murphy is to give his decision on that application when the trial resumes Thursday.