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‘I don’t remember,’ man accused in N.L. highway fatal crash testifies

Kyle Follett testifies in his own defence Thursday in court in St. John’s.
Kyle Follett testifies in his own defence Thursday in court in St. John’s. - Juanita Mercer

Kyle Follett testified in his own defence Thursday, after the court heard from several other witnesses over the past few days.

Follett, 28, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of driving without due care and attention in connection with an accident that resulted in the deaths of two teachers, Shannon Pittman, 40 and Randy Ralph, 52, who died as a result of the injuries they sustained in the crash.

If found guilty, Follett will have to pay a $180 fine under the Highway Traffic Act.

Follett spoke clearly as he was questioned first by his lawyer, Bob Simmonds, and then cross-examined by Crown prosecutor Tannis King. Follett described the series of events leading up to and after the crash.

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He testified that he travels back and forth between St. John’s and his home in Clarke’s Beach every workday doing deliveries. He said he left home around 3:30 p.m. to head back to St. John’s and, once on the highway, he set the cruise control to 100 km/h.

He said he was not on his cellphone, did not feel any more tired that day than any other day, and doesn’t recall anything causing him concern.

One witness at the scene of the crash previously testified he heard Follett say he must have dozed off, but Follett testified that he has no recollection of falling asleep and can’t see how that would have happened.

Follett also said he could not recall the events immediately before the crash.

“Looking back, I was in shock,” he said.

Near the end of Simmonds’ questioning, he asked Follett if he had anything else he could tell Judge Colin Flynn to help explain how, on a fine-weather day, he ended up in that collision without recalling the events immediately before the crash.

“My only explanation is my mind has it blocked out because of major trauma,” he replied.

After that statement, there was some rustling in the courtroom, particularly among the families of Pittman and Ralph. A woman in the courtroom could be heard exhaling, “Oh my God.”

Follett said he had a similar experience of his mind blocking things out when he was a passenger in a motor vehicle accident when he was 15 years old.

“Obviously, I was in shock right after the accident. I couldn’t remember coming up on the truck in the median. … The only explanation I could think in that moment was that I had fallen asleep,” he said. “Looking back, I don’t think I had fallen asleep, because I don’t remember any of it.

“First thing I remember was when the vehicle was stopped or just about stopped.”

Follett said he remembered screaming, and he had to look for his glasses because they had fallen off.

Simmonds asked Follett to describe his position in the vehicle when he first had awareness.

“I remember my leg being pushed down on the brake pedal as hard as I could,” he replied, also stating that he thinks both of his hands were on the steering wheel.

Follett said that after he got out of the truck, a witness came up to him and accused him of speeding. He also said people were looking for a fire extinguisher, so he grabbed one from his work truck.

“One person came up to ask me if everything was OK, and I said I didn’t remember anything.”

Follett said he doesn’t know who the man was.

“He said he saw a big dust cloud. … He told me that it wasn’t my fault.”

At that point, there was audible laughter in the courtroom.

Follett recalled having trouble breathing after the crash. Someone told him his colour was off, so they’d be putting him in an ambulance to go to the hospital. Follett said he left the scene in an ambulance with a neck brace on.

During cross-examination, King asked Follett if he had no recollection of braking.

“The first thing I remember is my foot hard on the brake,” he replied.

“But that was after the collision?”

“Correct.”

“Not before?”

“I don’t recall anything before,” he said.

King said if she were to suggest that he was daydreaming, or that falling asleep was a possibility, could he deny that?

“Not with 100 per cent certainty,” he replied, and again stated that he could not remember the moments before the crash.

That concluded Follett’s testimony. Final submissions from the Crown and defence will be brought before the court on Feb. 28.

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