Survivor of deadly 2016 Toronto crash testified at trial of accused driver

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WATCH ABOVE: Neveen Moukbel told a jury that Galeeb Abau-Jabeen was speeding and her best friend told the accused she didn't want to die. Catherine McDonald reports – Apr 4, 2019

Neveen Moukbel recalled the night two-and-a-half years ago when her best friend, 20-year-old Elif Gozgoz, was critically injured and another friend 25-year-old Mohammad Mohammad was killed. Moukbel said she and Gozgoz warned the driver Galeeb Abau-Jabeen to slow down but she said, he didn’t listen.

Moukbel testified at Abau-Jabeen’s trial. He is charged with criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The now 26-year-old is out on bail.

She told the court she agreed to go with Gozgoz to “chill” with Mohammad on the night of Nov. 28, 2016. The two were picked up at Gozgoz’s apartment near Victoria Park Avenue and Lawrence Avenue East by Mohammad and Abau-Jabeen, who was driving a black Honda Civic.

“In the car, there was the smell of a drink — an alcoholic drink. We did not see them drinking but we knew there was that smell,” Moukbel told the jury of three women and nine men.

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READ MORE: Toronto man on trial for criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm for 2016 crash

She said they went to a Tim Horton’s drive-thru before going to Christie Pitts park so they took the highway.

On the way, Moukbel testified Mohammad said something about smoking marijuana. When they got to Christie Pitts Park, she and Gozgoz sat on a bench while they could see Abau-Jabeen, Mohammad and his brother and some other men standing in a circle.

“I did see a blunt pass by, but I’m not sure who smoked it. Elif started to feel unsafe to go back with them in the car. She said, ‘Let’s take a taxi. Elif was telling me she wanted to leave.'”

Moukbel also testified that on the way down to Christie Pitts along the highway, Abau-Jabeen was driving fast.

“It felt scary,” she said, adding Gozgoz was uncomfortable and was scared for her life.

READ MORE: Driver charged after fatal single-vehicle crash in downtown Toronto

She even told them to “slow down.”

After leaving Christie Pitts, Moukbel said that’s when she recalled seeing a bottle of alcohol under the seat and the Abau-Jabeen took it out and mixed it with Pepsi while he had one hand on the steering wheel.

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“He spilled it on himself,” she said.

As they were heading back to Scarborough just prior to the crash, she said they pulled over and changed seats with Mohammad who liked her friend and wanted to sit with her in the rear.

While driving east along Bloor Street, Moukbel testified that Abau-Jabeen was not driving straight, was coming close to (other) cars, and was playing with the wheel.

“Elif got really scared. She told him, ‘Slow down. I don’t want to die.’ He was doing things a person should not be doing,” she said.

“He was speeding. He would drive left and right. It was like bumper cars. It was just terrible.”

She also recalled Gozgoz telling Abau-Jabeen, “Drive properly. I don’t want to die in the car and he’s like, don’t worry, no one’s gonna die in my car.”

“Even Mohammad told him, we have girls in the car. We should slow down,” recalled Moukbel.

Crown Attorney Andrew Max asked Moukbel, “With all of these warnings, did he slow down?” Moukbel answered, “No,” explaining that Abau-Jabeen was not taking it seriously that he had people in the car and should little concern for their lives.

Moukbel said the last thing she remembered before the crash was Abou-Jabeen trying to run a yellow light. After they lost control and slammed into a pole before hitting a wall at the corner of Parliament Street and Bloor Street East, she said Gozgoz and Mohammad were passed out in the back.

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“They were not awake,” she said.

Moukbel told the jury Abau-Jabeen was like, “Nothing’s going to happen. They’re going to good. But then Mohammad died in the spot and then Elif was in a coma, and she’s still not good until now.”

On the opening day of the trial, Crown Attorney Sean Doyle told the jury that Gozgoz suffered injuries to her head and spine.

Toronto police Const. John Paul Otti, who arrested Abau-Jabeen that night, testified that he took two breathe samples from the accused over an hour after the crash.

The first reading showed he had 40 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The second had a reading 36 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. It was below the warning level but Abau-Jabeen was a G2 driver which means he was not allowed to have any alcohol in his system.

Abau-Jabeen has pleaded not guilty. The trial continues.

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