By Shurtz, Delon on January 10, 2020.
The last thing Eric Godlonton expected to see on his way to work one morning were two people walking down the middle of the highway.
It was dark, about 4 a.m. on Sept. 2, and Godlonton had just driven past the airport as he approached the city on Highway 5. About 100 metres ahead of him he saw a man and woman walking along the yellow centre line, and it appeared the woman was pulling the man as she walked in front of Godlonton’s vehicle.
Godlonton had to swerve around the woman to avoid hitting her, but moments later a pickup truck heading in the opposite direction stuck the man, killing him.
Godlonton, who was testifying Thursday in Michael White Quills’ criminal trial, said he had stopped his vehicle about 40 metres further along the highway after driving around the woman. As he stepped out of his vehicle he saw a truck approaching and he waived his arms to make the driver aware of the people on the highway, but the truck did not slow down.
“I looked back and seen the impact,” Godlonton told court.
Although the truck blocked his view of the man when he was struck, Godlonton said he heard the impact. The driver, however, didn’t stop but sped away.
White Quills is charged with failing to stop at the scene of a collision causing death, and on Thursday Godlonton, who was one of five witnesses to testify for the Crown, said he’s been bothered by the hit-and-run ever since.
D.J. Long Time Squirrel, who was walking with 26-year-old Gage Christian Good Rider when he was struck by the truck, testified the two had been in Lethbridge earlier that day and had shared a 25-ounce bottle of vodka, some crystal meth and fentanyl, then a pint of vodka. They had almost finished drinking the pint of vodka by the time they had walked to Highway 5 at the south end of the city. Long Time Squirrel’s car had broken down earlier that morning and they were planning on walking to her home on the east side of the Blood Reserve.
Long Time Squirrel said they started walking on the highway after the pedestrian path ended on the outskirts of the city, but they walked in the lane closest to them. Whenever they heard a vehicle approach from behind they would quickly move onto the shoulder of the road.
The woman testified she heard what she believed was a speeding vehicle approaching quickly from behind. She glanced over her shoulder and saw a truck about three blocks behind them. She said she was walking on the white line separating the shoulder from the driving lane, when Good Rider yelled for her to get out of the way, then pushed her.
Long Time Squirrel, who was pushed to the ground heard a bump, and when she looked back Good Rider was gone.
“I was pretty freaked out,” she said.
During cross-examination by Calgary lawyer Balfour Der, Long Time Squirrel said that despite her consumption of vodka and drugs, she felt good and wasn’t physically affected by them.
“You must have been drunk,” Der insisted.
“Kind of, not really,” Long Time Squirrel responded.
She said her memory was not affected by the substances, either, although she couldn’t recall a vehicle swerving around her on the highway, and said she would remember if one had.
She also admitted under cross-examination that Good Rider actually pushed her because they were arguing as they walked along the highway, then seconds afterward he was struck. A few moments later, however, she recanted and said it was more than a few seconds after he pushed her that he was struck. She told court she was confused by Der’s questions.
Crown prosecutor Erin Olsen was expected to conclude her case Thursday, and Der to begin his case today before the trial concludes by the end of the day.
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