Accident report: Wong did not cause wreck

An accident reconstructionist’s report included the opinion that senior immigration officer Garfield (Gary) Wong was not at fault for a collision that occurred in December 2013, Magistrate Grace Donalds heard on Tuesday afternoon.

As a result of the incident, Wong is accused of careless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and driving under the influence of alcohol. He was driving a Dodge Ram truck at the time. One of the other vehicles involved was a BMW driven by a woman who was the Crown’s first witness.

The BMW was headed toward Bodden Town and the truck was headed toward George Town in the vicinity of Hibiscus Gardens on Shamrock Road, the court heard.

The accident reconstructionist, who was consulted by the Crown, has not yet given evidence. Information from his report was elicited by defense attorney Dennis Brady when he cross-examined the investigating officer in the case.

Asked if he was aware of the report’s conclusion, the officer said he recalled that the defendant was not at fault.

Mr. Brady suggested that the report stated that the maximum point of engagement suggested that the BMW drifted across the center line, causing the collision.

The officer said that did not impact his investigation.

Asked why he did not pursue an investigation against the woman driving the BMW, the officer said it was the defendant who left the scene, “which I thought was horrendous,” he added.

He said he considered the woman to be part of the investigation, but not the priority because she was not the one who left the scene and her passengers had possible injuries.

Asked about a roadside breath test for the defendant, the officer said Wong could not provide an adequate sample. Mr. Brady asked if the defendant had explained that he was suffering from acid reflux at the time. The officer agreed that was possible. Later, at the police station, the defendant provided a sufficient sample and the result was a reading of 0.184. The legal limit in Cayman is 0.100.

Crown counsel Scott Wainwright then called as his next witness, forensic toxicologist Dr. William Lee Hearn, who previously worked in Miami. He began giving evidence about “mouth alcohol.” He said the theory was that if there is excess alcohol in the stomach and then there is a “wet belch,” that could contaminate the breath sample and make the reading higher.

Continuing his evidence on Wednesday morning, he said the Intoxilyzer 5000 machine used in Cayman would detect “mouth alcohol.” He indicated some disagreement with the person the defense will be calling as expert on the subject. Given time constraints and the need for further calculations, Mr. Wainwright asked for an adjournment for mention again on Jan. 25 to ascertain availability of witnesses.

The trial is expected to resume in March, when Mr. Hearn is scheduled to be in Cayman for another matter.

On Tuesday, after Mr. Wainwright called the driver of the BMW as his first witness and she agreed to the contents of her statement, Mr. Brady questioned her. She said she had been breathalyzed at the scene and the officer told her she was under the limit.

Mr. Brady said to her, “I suggest your vehicle strayed onto the path of the truck. What do you say to that?”

She replied, “I don’t recall.”

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