WARNING: This story contains disturbing content.
A driver who witnessed two women get struck by a U-Haul van in Edmonton two years ago said he thought one of them was dead.
Gaspar Dias testified at Abdulahi Hasan Sharif’s attempted murder trial on Tuesday morning.
Sharif is accused of ramming a police officer with a vehicle and then stabbing him. A few hours later, it’s alleged Sharif drove a U-Haul van through downtown Edmonton and ran down four pedestrians.
Dias said that on Sept. 30, 2017 he was travelling east in his truck along Jasper Avenue. At about 11:30 p.m., he was stopped in the left lane at the corner of Jasper and 107 Street.
He heard sirens and looked to his left.
“There was a big U-Haul truck coming down the street,” Dias said. “He was coming fast. I’m not sure what speed. It’s hard to estimate.
“I remember telling the person next to me in my truck, ‘This guy’s never going to stop in time.’ Then he just drove onto the sidewalk, went over the sidewalk and he hit those two girls.”
Jordan Stewardson and Kimberly O’Hara were both struck and injured in that intersection.
Both testified on Friday and said they still bear the physical and emotional scars from that night.
Stewardson testified she remembers seeing the U-Haul van’s headlights approaching her but doesn’t actually remember being hit.
O’Hara said she doesn’t remember anything about being struck.
Dias said he saw it all.
Dias testified the U-Haul van nearly hit his vehicle.
“He swerved. came very close to me. I thought for sure I was going to get hit. When he swerved — to avoid hitting me I guess — that’s when the girl flew the other way.”
Soon after the collision, several people — including Const. Holly Beutler — tried to help the injured women.
Beutler testified she went to the woman who was still conscious, which court previously heard was Stewardson.
Beutler said the woman seemed “scared.”
“I think she was in complete disbelief from what happened,” Beutler said. “She was crying, but also seemed a bit confused I guess. She kept asking, ‘Why?’
“I just tried to keep her calm. I told her it was going to be OK. She kept asking about her friend, who I knew was severely injured, but I just kept saying she was going to be OK. I just tried to keep her focused on me and nothing else.”
Const. Daniel Shoniker was with Stewardson’s friend, O’Hara.
Shoniker testified that O’Hara “was laying on her back.”
“Her eyes were open but she did not appear to be conscious and her breathing was very laboured,” he said.
Shoniker stabilized her neck and spine with his hands. He testified that O’Hara’s injuries were severe.
“The back of her head was soft to the touch, almost spongy.”
When he later looked at his hands, they were covered in blood.
Shoniker said while he was at the intersection helping O’Hara, she began to regain consciousness.
Sharif’s trial also heard from two other witnesses who saw the U-Haul van enter an alley a few blocks away, near The Pint. Both were in line waiting to get inside the bar.
The witnesses said they saw the U-Haul van turn north off of Jasper Avenue and onto 109 Street.
As it approached an alley a few metres north of the intersection, “it took quite a sharp turn to the point where the U-Haul slightly tipped a bit and the side mirror, the driver’s side mirror, made contact with the building,” Charmaine St. Germain testifed. “It also struck the gentleman that was standing there.
“It continued down the alley.”
Another witness, Kailey McLeod, was also in line at The Pint. She said she also saw the U-Haul van enter the alley and described the way it was being driven as “reckless, without hesitation.”
Sharif is representing himself in his trial. He again chose not to ask any questions of any of the witnesses.
Sharif has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges, including five counts of attempted murder.