Janice Snell jumped into the passenger seat of her PT Cruiser, grabbed the keys from the ignition and had almost closed the driver’s side door when she was stopped in her tracks.
A burly man carrying a sawed off shotgun held the door open, and got inside.
“Give me the keys. Give me the car,” he said, twice, she told the court Thursday.
“He wasn’t shouting.. he was demanding, but soft spoken.”
To both questions she said “no” and even went so far as to gently nudge the gunman in the direction of the door.
The keys, she said, were tucked under her leg.
The strangely bold act of defiance didn’t end badly, all things considered.
The man, who was identified in court as Michael Ellis, merely got out of Snell’s car and back into the minivan.
Two others who were with Ellis – a man and a woman – also disappeared at that time.
Snell said she wasn’t sure who in the trio was driving, although she presumed it was Ellis.
Not long after that stop around 20 kilometres south of Lake Okanagan Resort, he’s alleged to have car-jacked a different person, more successfully.
Crown Counsel has brought a number of witnesses to the stand to attest to their view of Ellis and his two accomplices on the wild July 31, 2012 ride that started in West Kelowna, moved down Westside Road and ended in a shootout with police near Vernon.
Between flaggers, fellow motorists, pedestrians and firefighters, it seems that dozens of eyes got a bird’s eye view of one of the most high stakes police chases ever to have played out in the valley.
And, as each of them offers their account, Ellis sits in the prisoner’s box, sipping water and listening to their memories, seemingly without much interest.
When Snell identified Ellis as the man who got into her car, he almost nodded a greeting to her.
One witness, however, seemed to get a less friendly reception.
Savana Hoover was a flagger on the day of the chase, and offered her recollection of events on Thursday.
She testified that she was given notice of a minivan speeding down the road, near the fire site she was watching with several other flaggers.
She got orders to get off the road, so she did.
From there, she saw the minivan pause, before speeding by.
She had a brief, but apparently lasting view of a man she identified as Ellis.
“That’s the part that scared me,” she said. “He glared at me like he was looking through me.”
His expression, she said, was completely blank.
When questioned about how she could be sure that it was Ellis, she explained the memory is very much alive in her head.
“When an image plays over and over, you get a good look at it,” she told the court.
Hoover left the witness box after a brief cross examination.
Ellis is facing more than 20 charges, including five counts of attempted murder, several counts of robbery and weapons offences.