A Cardston man, who’s charged in a fatal hit and run from 2018, taking the stand on Friday (Jan. 10) in his own trial.
Michael White Quills, 32, is facing a single charge of failing to remain at a collision causing death. White Quills has admitted that he was driving the pickup truck that hit and killed Gage Good Rider, 26, as the man walked with his girlfriend along Highway 5 early in the morning on Sep. 2, 2018.
Coaldale RCMP say Good Rider was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash south of Lethbridge.
White Quills told the court on Friday (Jan. 10) that he had spent some of the day on Sep. 1, 2018 at a rodeo outside of Lethbridge. Later that afternoon, he drove into the city with two other men in his parent’s pickup truck to attend a local festival and two bars. He admitted to drinking about 11 beer throughout the day.
White Quills says he was tired late that night, but he was the least intoxicated of the three people in the vehicle and believed he was fine to drive home to Cardston.
Upon cross examination by Crown Prosecutor, Erin Olsen, White Quills said he was aware that he was driving between 91 and 101 kph in a posted 60 kph zone along Highway 5. He then told the court that he looked down for a few seconds to adjust the radio and speak to one of his passengers when he heard a loud bang.
White Quills says he was “almost certain” that he hit a deer, though he did not see any deer or other animals that night, he didn’t pull over to look at the damage or look behind him to see if anything was laying on the road.
According to White Quills, the two passengers in the truck were asleep and didn’t wake up during the crash.
White Quills says he began to panic as he drove away southbound from the site of the crash. He testified that he didn’t stop because the temperature gauge on the truck spiked and he was worried about being stranded on the highway with a broken down vehicle. He says he also feared being charged by police for impaired or careless driving, not being under his parent’s insurance to drive the truck and how his parents would react to the damage.
However, White Quills stressed that it never crossed his mind that he had hit a person since he didn’t notice any people on the road. In fact, he says he was shocked to see the news on Sep. 3, 2018 that Good Rider had been hit and killed.
Defence lawyer, Balfour Der, told the court during his closing arguments that testimony on Thursday (Jan. 9) from Good Rider’s girlfriend, DJ Long Time Squirrel, is not reliable. Der says her memory of the events is clouded due to drugs, alcohol and her emotions.
He also notes that White Quills was forthright and credible in his testimony, and should be acquitted given that he wasn’t aware that he had killed someone.
Meanwhile, the Crown argues that White Quill’s failure to stop or report the collision means he did intend to avoid criminal liability, and it’s his own fault that he didn’t notice Good Rider and Long Time Squirrel on the highway because he was driving while tired, impaired and distracted.
A verdict is expected to be delivered on May 7 when the case returns to Lethbridge Provincial Court.