WEYBURN, Sask. – Three years ago, 18-year-old Ashley Richards was struck and killed on her first official day on the job as a flag person on a highway near Midale.
On Friday, court debated whether the man who hit her, Keith Dunford, was criminally responsible for her death.
The Crown presented its fifth and final witness, another semi-truck driver who said he was also passed in the construction zone just before 47-year-old Keith Dunford’s Ford Explorer struck and killed Ashley Richards.
The defence did not bring forward any new evidence or witnesses before both lawyers presented their closing arguments.
The Crown showed Dunford’s video confession with the RCMP just hours after the collision. In the video, Dunford said “I wasn’t paying attention. I did pass a few trucks … I was looking at my paperwork, pleased with myself. I looked up and she was there.”
Dunford was driving back from getting his immigration paperwork at the the time. He had already driven through the construction zone earlier that day.
Despite there being nine traffic signs warning of the construction, in the video, Dunford said he did not see any and believed the construction to be further up the road.
“I think any time you have evidence coming from the accused himself, it is a strong piece of evidence, so that’s why we put it in,” said Senior Crown Prosecutor Mitchell Miller.
The Crown also argued Dunford chose to speed, chose to pass, and chose to look at his papers in a construction zone when he should have been paying attention.
The defence argued the RCMP did not properly seize evidence from the scene, including Richards’ boots, hard hat and vest, which must lie in the accused’s favour, as he is innocent until proven guilty.
Dunford’s lawyer also said witnesses didn’t feel his client was speeding excessively and said there is confusion over how long no passing signs apply.
Defence counsel Aaron Fox said the decision is now in the hands of the judge: “What she has to decide is whether this case goes beyond negligence or improper driving, which occurs from time to time and is serious enough that you’re going to call it a criminal offence.”
The judge is expected to give her decision Oct. 13.