Woman, 73, died; her husband’s life ‘ruined’

Yvan Grandmaison drank four beers, snorted cocaine and took an antidepressant to help him sleep the day he drove his car into an elderly couple who were out for an evening stroll, killing the woman and severely injuring her husband.

Grandmaison, who already has a record for impaired driving, mischief, fraud, theft and breaking a probation order to not drink alcohol, took the stand Thursday to defend himself on charges of impaired driving causing death and injury.

Relatives of Ngnan Wong Lee, 73, and her husband, Poom Huy Shuy, who was 72 at the time, sat in the Montreal courtroom as Grandmaison, 42, explained that Ceres St. in Dollard des Ormeaux was so dark that night, he didn't see the couple.

"I turned the corner and saw a flash beside me, turned to look and when I turned my head back, someone was on the hood of the car," he said. "I braked, but slowly."

Crown prosecutor Dennis Galiatsatos pointed out that Grandmaison never mentioned this "flash" in the 911 call he made after the impact, or to police afterward.

"You're talking about this flash for the first time today," he said during his cross-examination of Grandmaison.

Galiatsatos argued before Quebec Court Judge Marie-Josée Di Lallo that Grandmaison isn't credible, given his past convictions, and said the court must consider the evidence as a whole to find the accused guilty.

Outside the courtroom, the prosecutor noted that people who risk using drugs and driving should "think twice." Since 2008, he said, the Montreal police force has trained a whole squad of officers on how to detect drivers who are impaired by the effects of illegal narcotics or medication.

Defence lawyer Alexandre Paradis argued that what happened last Feb. 21 was an accident. The street on which the couple was walking had no sidewalks, was poorly lit and parts were covered in ice and snow.

"There were no visibility tests done (at the scene) even though it would have been possible," Paradis said in his closing arguments at the end of the three-day trial.

Grandmaison was driving at a reasonable speed and reacted like someone who was aware of what was going on, the lawyer said.

In his testimony, Grandmaison, a father of a 7-year-old, said he panicked and was scared when the police showed up. He said one officer told him: "Are you proud of yourself now, mon tabernac?"

Grandmaison testified that a few hours before the tragedy, he snorted some cocaine and drank a beer with a friend he ran into at a physiotherapy clinic.

He spent the rest of the day looking after his mother, who had lung cancer and with whom he lived, then between 4:15 and 5:30 p.m., drank two beers. At about 6:30, he had another. At 7:30, he said, he took two tablets of Seroquel, an antidepressant prescribed to him that day to help him sleep.

As he prepared to go to bed, his mother asked him to go get lottery tickets for the draw that night, so he drove to the dépanneur and bought the tickets and a six-pack of beer, he told the court.

Heading home, he turned right off of Sunnybrooke Blvd. onto Ceres St. and hit the couple. The man was thrown about 13 metres and the woman ended up on the hood of Grandmaison's car.

"This wasn't someone coming out from between two parked cars," Galiatsatos said in his closing arguments. "It was an elderly couple taking a walk."

Outside the courtroom Thursday, Bill Wong, a nephew of the couple, said that a year after the tragedy, his uncle is still in hospital, recovering from his injuries.

"His life is ruined and the whole family is shattered," he said. "I hope (the court) will send a strong message that this can't be tolerated."

The judge is to render her verdict March 26.

Source: The Montreal Gazette


Last updated on: 2013-03-30 | Link to this post