Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)

Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

The Crown has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Rituraj Kaur Grewal did not have a epileptic seizure while driving when she crashed into a Surrey teen’s car, killing him, and so his client is entitled to an acquittal.

That’s what defence lawyer Don Muldoon argued in his final submissions Wednesday on behalf of the Surrey woman accused of criminal negligence causing death in the 2017 traffic crash that killed Cloverdale teen Travis Selje. In order to convict, he noted, the court must be satisfied that an element of moral blameworthiness has been established beyond a reasonable doubt by the Crown.

“The evidence is compelling that an epileptic seizure caused this tragic accident. That was the rational explanation, on the evidence,” Muldoon told Justice Jeanne Watchuk. “The evidence is compelling, overwhelming and far surpasses the threshold of raising a reasonable doubt.”

Grewal, 26, had been driving her father’s Cadillac at age 22 when it slammed into Selje’s Honda Prelude at high speed on May 3, 2017 at the intersection of 64th Avenue and 176th Street in Cloverdale, fatally injuring the 17-year-old boy. He died in hospital two days later.

An RCMP forensic expert testified during the trial, which continues in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, that the Cadillac was doing 142 km/h in a 60 km/h zone just prior to hitting Selje’s car.

READ ALSO: Epilepsy expert says driver’s behavior, after fatal Surrey crash, consistent with seizure

READ ALSO: Accused’s neurologist in fatal Surrey crash trial says epilepsy can bring on amnesia

READ ALSO: Accused says she knows ‘for sure’ she didn’t deliberately cause fatal Surrey crash

READ ALSO: ‘I believe my seizure caused the accident,’ accused on trial for fatal Surrey crash tells court

Grewal testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision.

Dr. Yahya Aghakhani, director of Vancouver General Hospital’s epilepsy program testified that Grewal’s behaviour as described by a couple of witnesses immediately after the crash that killed Selje was consistent with an epileptic seizure but he could not confirm she had one while she was driving.

Dr. Gurwant Singh, a Surrey neurologist who diagnosed Grewal with epilepsy in 2019 and continues to treat her testified that amnesia can be brought on by an epileptic seizure, a concussion or a combination of both. The court heard Grewal is given to convulsive seizures and complex partial seizures and underwent an MRI scan that revealed an arachnoid cyst compressing the right temporal lobe in her brain.

READ ALSO: Forensic expert says accused’s car was doing 142 km/h in crash that killed Surrey teen

READ ALSO: Surrey cop found ‘crack pipe’ in jacket of driver accused in crash that killed teen

READ ALSO: Witness testifies car that hit Surrey teen’s Honda was going like ‘a bat out of hell’

READ ALSO: Witness testifies driver was doing up to 180 km/h, another says she ‘seemed to be intoxicated’

READ ALSO: Oxycodone found in blood of driver accused in Travis Selje’s death, court heard

Muldoon noted there was “absolutely no effort, none,” on Grewal’s part to avoid the collision. “There is no braking, not even the most minimal of braking,” he said. “There’s no attempt to steer away from the stopped vehicles. There’s no reaction or attempt to avoid the obvious hazard.”

Subsequent to the crash two MRI scans confirmed Grewal has “abnormalities in the brain.”

“The evidence is crystal clear – this woman has abnormalities in the brain, and those abnormalities in and of themselves can cause seizures.”

Muldoon also noted that prior to the 2017 crash Grewal had not yet been diagnosed with epilepsy. “She had no idea that she was suffering from epilepsy.”

“Her evidence was that she had never experienced any kind of a tremor or a seizure while driving any time prior to May of 2017,” he told the court. “There’s no basis for concluding this woman could or should have known that there was any risk in her operating a motor vehicle on May 3, 2017.”

Crown Prosecutor Kelly Johnston has yet to make his final arguments. After he does, Watchuk has indicated she will reserve her decision to a later date.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram  and follow Tom on Twitter

BC Supreme CourtSurreyTraffic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Langley and other communities should be concerned about credit union’s direction

Member read the fine print and does not like the proposed changes

Langley MLAs Andrew Mercier and Megan Dykeman. (Black Press Media files)
Langley MLAs announce multiculturalism grants intended to help fight racism

Priority was given to projects addressing anti-Indigenous, anti-Asian and anti-Black racism

Jaden Lipinski has signed to the Langley-based Vancouver Giants, and is expected to start next season. (Lipinski Family/Special to Black Press Media)
Arizona forward joins Vancouver Giants ranks

A young scorer out of Scottsdale was signed to start playing in the 2021-22 season

Langley Township is planning to construct a multi-use arts and cultural centre in Fort Langley. (Langley Township graphic)
Wanna buy a piece of Langley history? Museum naming rights up for grabs

Township opens up sponsorship for new Salishan Place by the River history, arts and culture centre

Vancouver Giants goalie Trent Miner saw his lengthy shutout streak in the net come to an end in a 6-3 loss against Prince George on Saturday, April 10. (Allen Douglas/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Giants winning streak snapped by Prince George Cougars in 6-3 loss

The game also marked the end of a franchise-record shutout streak by goalie Trent Miner

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read