A driver accused of knocking down two pedestrians on West Bay Road told a jury Wednesday that he believed he had sustained a head injury in the accident.
Simon Christopher Courtney said he became aware of the injury around 5 a.m. the day after the accident, when he woke up on a golf course near his home and he tried to regain his feet.
The defendant is charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm on Richard Schubert, 71, and Kathy Schubert, 68, who were both seriously injured in the accident, as well as driving dangerously or recklessly. The accident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015.
Before Courtney took the stand and before the prosecution closed its case, Crown counsel Greg Walcolm read into the record a number of admissions – facts on which the prosecution and defense agreed.
These facts include the information that on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, Courtney attended the George Town Police Station around 5:30 p.m. with his wife and an attorney. Courtney was arrested and cautioned. He told police, “Officer, I suffered a concussion in the accident and was disoriented. I am just coming from the George Town Hospital and the doctor released me to my wife’s care.”
The next agreed fact is: “There is no medical evidence in support of the defendant’s diagnosis of having suffered a concussion.”
Mr. Walcolm also read to the judge and jury the prepared statement Courtney read to police when he was interviewed on Feb. 25, 2015.
In the statement, he said he remembered going to brunch at The Ritz-Carlton on the day of the accident. He said his wife usually drove home from the brunch, but she had two broken toes, so he knew he would be driving, so he was careful about drinking alcohol. He said they drank water and coffee after 3 p.m.
When he left the restaurant, he estimated his speed was about 20 mph. He described switching gears when the wheels of his Mustang Shelby GT500 started spinning. He described turning the steering wheel to correct the car sliding and then the car spinning once and hitting the curb of the sidewalk.
Courtney said his sunglasses ended up in his wife’s lap and he assumed that was when he hit his head.
He noted that he is “a trained first responder” and when he saw a woman lying on the ground, he ran over to see if he could help. He checked her airways and started to check for injuries, but another woman told him to leave her alone. He said he stood up to call 911.
He referred to his efforts to call 911 in the statement and in the interview with police that followed. He said he went back to The Ritz-Carlton to find a phone, but did not make it to the Seven restaurant. He did not know if it was shock or panic, but he was getting overwhelmed.
The officer conducting the interview asked if Courtney did not see a hotel employee while he was looking for a phone. He replied, “If I did, I don’t remember it. You’re not thinking clearly when you’ve knocked your head.”
The officer showed Courtney CCTV footage from various areas of The Ritz-Carlton and suggested the outside bar was full of people and staff. The defendant replied that he did not see any footage of himself walking past the bar. He was just focused on getting to the restaurant to call 911.
In the witness box on Wednesday, Courtney was answering questions from his lead counsel, Trevor Burke. He said he did not know there was CCTV of the accident and had not seen it before he went to the police station with his prepared statement.
On Tuesday, the court heard from David Nugent, an accredited accident reconstructionist from Florida. He said he disagreed with Collin Redden, the reconstructionist called by the prosecution, as to the cause of the accident.
Mr. Redden had said it was the result of harsh acceleration. Mr. Nugent referred to the calculated speed limits they had agreed on. The first calculation was 39 mph; the second calculation was 37. If the speed of the vehicle went from 39 to 37, Mr. Nugent said he did not understand how that would be accelerating; if anything, the car would be decelerating.
In his opinion, the accident had resulted from the left rear wheel hydroplaning – losing contact with the surface of the road because of water on the road.
The jury has heard from several witnesses about the weather that day and the rain that fell.