Travis Ryan Hennessy was in the drivers’ seat when a car crashed into a concrete wall on Highway 33 in Kelowna, killing one person and injuring two others, a judge has determined.
Hennessy, a Prince George man, maintained throughout his trial that he was not driving on June 20, 2018, when the car he was in crashed, but on Monday (Jan. 25), a B.C. Provincial Court judge ruled that he was. He was convicted of two counts of dangerous driving causing injury and one count of dangerous driving causing death.
According to testimony throughout the trial, which took place over a number of days in December 2020, Hennessy was driving erratically in the Rutland area around 3 a.m., earning the attention of a nearby police officer. That officer, Const. Conrad Erbes told the court in December he saw a vehicle quickly turn onto Highway 33 from Hollywood Road North, possibly striking a median in the process, before continuing westbound at a high rate of speed– estimated to be more than 100 km/h.
Pursuing the car, Erbes said it soon began to lose control and after briefly disappearing from his vision, crashing into a concrete fence sending debris and the occupants of the vehicle flying across the road, causing a cloud of dust. All four occupants of the car were transported to hospital and one, Lenard Haines died the next day in hospital.
Several officers attended the scene and the road was closed for a number of hours that day.
The judge said in weighing the evidence brought forward by Hennessy and that of other people to take the stand, she simply couldn’t believe his story. She cited Hennessy’s clear memory of events before and following the incident, but his apparent inability to recall events specific to the crash as an example of the incredibility of his testimony. Hennessy said that inconsistency was caused by a traumatic brain injury that he received in the crash and his frequent drug use.
Hennessy’s claims differed from those of one of his passengers, who the judge did deem a credible witness. That witness was adamant that Hennessy was driving at the time of the accident.
Forensic evidence also placed Hennessy in the drivers’ seat, as opposed to the back seat where he claimed to be; his blood was found on the drivers’ airbag.
“I have no doubt that Travis Hennesy was the driver … that he drove that vehicle dangerously and that as a result that Lenard Haines died and both Karla Mindel and Shane Haines suffered bodily harm,” said the judge in her decision.
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