First week wraps up in Rodney Arens case

  • Apr. 30, 2014 4:04 p.m.

The first witnesses in the crown’s case have testified in the trial of Rodney Arens.

The eight-week trial got underway last Wednesday and is set to wrap up on June 20 in Red Deer.

In 2010, police said Anouluck ‘Jeffrey’ Chanminaraj, 13, was riding in a Honda Civic with his 18-year-old brother Jamie and 20-year-old sister Stephanie, who was driving, at about 11 p.m. on Canada Day when a Dodge Ram pick-up truck crashed into the passenger side of the car.

Their car was turning left through the intersection of Taylor Dr. and Kerry Wood Dr. when it was allegedly struck by the pick-up truck. The siblings were on their way to see the Canada Day fireworks.

Jeffrey was pronounced dead at the scene.

Arens, 36, of Red Deer, is charged with impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, three charges of refusing to provide a breathalyzer sample and breach of recognizance. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Thomas Smith, 29, of Red Deer was the first witness to testify in the trial.

He said he and his family were on their way to watch the Canada Day fireworks from the west side of the river.

“I saw the whole thing happen. It was a big trauma. This incident has permanently been implanted in my brain. Canada Day should be a day of celebration, not a day of mourning.”

Smith said he was located about three vehicles back from the intersection on Kerry Wood Dr. waiting to turn left onto Taylor Dr. to cross the bridge to the other side of the river. He noticed the light turn yellow and a silver Honda Civic begin to turn left from Taylor Dr. onto Kerry Wood Dr. He said it was then hit by a black truck on the front passenger side.

“I heard the engine (of the truck) rev to speed up when the light turned yellow to try and beat the red light. The truck hit the car on full impact,” said Smith. “I estimate the truck was going between 75-80 kilometres an hour when it hit the car.”

Smith said he called 911 immediately following the collision and followed the instructions of the dispatch operator.

He said he was told by the dispatch operator to get out of his vehicle, describe the scene and go check on the occupants of the Honda Civic.

“There was one female in the driver seat, one male in the front passenger seat and one male in the rear passenger seat. The boy in the front passenger seat was no longer breathing and the boy in the rear passenger seat was really banged up. There was blood everywhere and the car was mangled.”

He said at one point he also noticed the driver of the truck.

“The gentlemen in the black truck was out of the vehicle and was sitting near the front tire trying to grasp what happened.”

City firemedics Glen Carritt and Curtis Schaefer both testified last week and were the second responders to the scene of the accident.

Schaefer said they were called to the scene of the accident, but were only at the location for a brief time because they were dispatched there to transport the female driver of the car to the hospital.

“We were only on scene for 10 to 15 minutes and we transported Stephanie to the hospital,” he said.

Early the next morning on July 2, Carritt and Schaefer were called to the cells at the RCMP detachment to attend to Arens.

“When we got there, he (Arens) was sleeping on the bed in the cell. He awoke to his name being called. He appeared to be agitated and was not 100 per cent cooperative and he questioned why we were there,” said Carritt.

He added there were no visible injuries on Arens and they left shortly after arriving because he checked out fine.

Carritt also testified that he did not smell alcohol or marijuana on Arens.

Meanwhile, the trial continues this week in Red Deer. The crown is expected to call 30 witnesses.