The siblings of the 13-year-old boy who died in a car crash on July 1, 2010 testified in the Rodney Arens trial last week.
Somhuck ‘Stephanie’ Chanminaraj and her brother Bhouttaluck ‘Jamie’ Chanminaraj both took the stand last Friday.
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.
In 2010, police said Anouluck ‘Jeffrey’ Chanminaraj, 13, was riding in a Honda Civic with his then 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.
Both Stephanie and Jamie testified during court proceedings last Friday. They recounted events earlier in the day on July 1, 2010, which was also their father’s birthday. Stephanie said the siblings were at their father’s Highland Green home to celebrate with a turkey lunch. “We just sat together, enjoyed each other’s company and had some food,” she said.
She added afterwards they all went to Bower Ponds to take in the festivities which included listening to music, eating food and walking around.
After spending the day with her family, Stephanie said she went back to her home to grab a blanket, some juice boxes and snacks for her and her brothers to enjoy while watching the fireworks.
She said she returned to her father’s home in Highland Green at 10:30 p.m. to pick up Jeffrey and Jamie.
“Jeffrey wanted to go but Jamie didn’t want to – he wanted to stay home and play video games, but I told him he had to go,” said Stephanie as she became tearful on the stand.
Just before the siblings were about to leave, Stephanie said they were trying to decide where they would watch the fireworks from – either right at Bower Ponds or in the Superstore parking lot. Before they left, they decided they would watch the fireworks at Bower Ponds.
Stephanie said as she drove towards Bower Ponds she remembered the area around Taylor Dr. and Kerry Wood Dr. to be “pretty busy.”
She added she remembers beginning to turn left from Taylor Dr. onto Kerry Wood Dr. when she thought it was safe to do so.
“I saw bright lights and that is all I remember.”
Shortly after the collision, Stephanie said she came to and recalled glass in her mouth. “I turned to see my brothers and opened the driver side door, got out and screamed for help.”
She said she can remember being comforted by a woman who was holding her hand. “She told me that everything was going to be ok and I asked her to call my dad and my boyfriend.”
Stephanie was then taken by ambulance to Red Deer Regional Hospital. She suffered from bruising and soft tissue damage that took four months of treatment to heal.
Recalling the collision last week, Stephanie said, “Being the older sister, I take the guardianship role – to have to live with something like that forever….”
Stephanie added after the collision, she had a feeling that Jeffrey “didn’t make it.”
“In that moment everything just seemed quieter than it should have been.”
Jamie said he only remembers waking up at the Foothills Hospital after the collision. He said a social services worker informed him in the hospital about what had happened.
Jamie’s injuries included bilateral fractures in both of his femurs and a metacarpal fracture in his left hand. He told the court that he had to have surgery on both his legs as well as two to three surgeries on his hand following the collision.
Jamie was released from the hospital after three months but continued to walk with a cane for six to eight months after being discharged.
As for right before the collision, Jamie said he only remembers seeing the traffic lights at Taylor Dr. and 60 St. at the top of the hill before the Kerry Wood Dr. intersection.
“We were going to watch the fireworks at Bower Ponds,” he said.
The trial continues in Red Deer on Friday.