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‘We didn’t know what was going on’: Brockville manslaughter trial witness

WATCH: For a second day, a Brockville courtroom heard witness testimony about the night before Damian Sobieraj's body was found in the St. Lawrence River.

On Thursday, A Brockville Ont., courtroom was filled with family and friends of both the victim and the accused at the Brockville manslaughter trial.

For the second day, teenagers who were in Hardy Park with the accused on Sept. 13, 2018, were asked questions from the crown attorney and the defence on what they saw and heard that evening. According to police, the body of Damian Sobieraj was found floating in the St. Lawrence River the next day near the Brock Trail boardwalk.

A friend of the now 15-year-old accused, appeared via video from the closed-circuit TV room inside the Leeds and Grenville County Court House and told her story beginning with her first interaction with Sobieraj that night.

“He [Damian Sobieraj] walked up to them, hitting the trees and told them to stop and that you can go to jail for it,” the witness said.

She said Sobieraj reached to take the branch out of one of the youths hands, causing the teen to push Sobieraj.

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READ MORE: UPDATE: Brockville police arrest youth in relation to death of Damian Sobieraj

The witness said members of the group then ran away in all directions when Sobieraj called 911.

According to the witness who testified on Wednesday, Sobieraj followed a few of the youths near the Brock Trail boardwalk, which is when the accused pushed him into the river.

Witness testimony describes Brockville man’s death in teen manslaughter trial
Witness testimony describes Brockville man’s death in teen manslaughter trial

The witness on Thursday said she didn’t see the push.

“Last time I saw, [the accused] was walking towards the water,” the teen said.

The witness said she recalled hearing about the incident that night, becoming curious and going back to the scene.

“When I heard about it, I went back to where they said it happened — around the first ladder — and saw a white thing floating in the water,” the witness said.

“It looked like a blob or maybe a reflection, but the way the water was moving it looked like a shirt, and it kind of looked like it was holding onto the ladder.”

READ MORE: Brockville teen accused of manslaughter released on bail

According to the witness, she stayed on the boardwalk staring out onto the river for three seconds before leaving Hardy Park and rejoining the entire group at Henry St. Park, which is about a 5-minute walk away.

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“We were shaking; we didn’t know what was going on,” the witness said.

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The witness and friend recalls the accused crying later that night, telling her that Sobieraj screamed that he couldn’t swim and needed help.

The trial will continue on Tuesday.