Six-day trial set for dangerous driving causing death case

Details set for six-day trial of driver charged in fatal accident in park

  • Mar. 14, 2013 5:00 p.m.
A file photo shows the scene of a 2011 crash in Kootenay National Park near Radium Hot Springs

A file photo shows the scene of a 2011 crash in Kootenay National Park near Radium Hot Springs

Kristian Rasmussen/Invermere Valley Echo

A Vancouver man charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing death in connection with a July 22, 2011 collision between his tractor trailer and a Dodge camper van carrying a California family of four, made his third court appearance by proxy in Invermere Provincial court on Monday, March 11.

Acting as a representative for Jaswinder Singh Bagri, 41, and his lawyer Selwyn Russell Chamberlain, Buffy Blakley requested a Punjabi interpreter be present for the trial and noted that Mr. Chamberlain would be hiring his own forensic expert to analyze the crash.

Appearing for the Crown, Basil McCormick announced plans to use 10 civilian witnesses, a police expert in collisions and a police expert in forensics during the trial.

The defense estimated a seven-day trial, while the Crown requested five days. Judge Ron Webb found the middle ground and set the trial for six days, which will likely be scheduled for a date in the spring of 2014.

The details surrounding the tragic events of July 22, 2011, began when Mr. Bagri drove his commercial vehicle, which was towing an unloaded flat-deck B-train tractor trailer, southbound on Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park.

A Dodge camper towing a Suzuki SUV and carrying a family of four vacationing in B.C. from Palo Alto, California, was headed northbound near Olive Lake when Mr. Bagri lost control of his vehicle. The semi trailer crossed the highway centerline and jackknifed directly into the path of the Dodge Camper.

The vacationing family were pinned against a highway guard rail by the impact of the semi trailer, which then ignited, trapping the family in the fire.

Robert Howard, 48, his wife Ana-Maria Dias, 50, and their two daughters Veronica, 9, and Samantha, 11, were killed in the fire.

Mr. Bagri has pleaded not guilty to all four counts. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 8 in Invermere Provincial Court to set a date for his trial.