Hamilton teacher Jay Keddy, 53, was killed Dec. 2, 2015 as he biked up the Claremont Access.
Guy McPhee puts his truck’s emergency flashers on and steps out into a dark lane of the Claremont Access.
The real estate broker looks back down the hill where he’s just hit something.
“I can see papers floating in the headlights,” he says from the witness stand Wednesday.
The papers came from a messenger bag worn by school teacher Jay Keddy as he pedalled his bike up the curb lane.
“I heard a bang,” McPhee tells the court. “Like obviously I had hit something. I didn’t see anything … I could feel a bump, but it didn’t jerk the steering wheel or anything.”
Court heard there was no evidence of the truck braking before the collision, and police calculated the truck was travelling between 49 and 59 km/h in a 70 km/h zone.
On Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, just after 5:30 p.m., McPhee’s pickup truck hit and killed Keddy, 53, a beloved teacher at Prince of Wales School who left behind his wife and three grown children. The truck struck the bike from behind, a Hamilton police collision reconstruction officer testified.
McPhee, 57, is on trial for careless driving. He was the only witness called by his lawyer, Dean Paquette.
Keddy’s death became a rallying point for cycling and safe street activists demanding more bike lanes. There are no bike lanes on the Claremont Access.
McPhee was on his way home that night when he drove the access road that was, in a stretch just before the collision, down to one lane due to construction. He says he was focused on changing out of the curb lane — looking in his driver’s side mirror, doing a shoulder check — when he hit something.
Keddy, court heard, was wearing a dark coat, black gloves, blue jeans and black shoes. His black messenger bag would have been heavy with papers, possibly making it more difficult for him to control his bike. His dark lunch bag was likely dangling from his handlebars. He had a light at the front of his bike and some reflectors. Another bike light was found in the debris at the scene. It cannot be known for certain if it came from the back of Keddy’s bike or, even if it did, if it was turned on when the bike was struck.
McPhee testified he pulled over and got out to look after the bang. But he didn’t see a bike or Keddy. He got back into his truck quickly, because he was in a lane of traffic and it wasn’t safe.
After he got home and saw the right front corner of his truck was crumpled, he called police at 5:49 p.m.
“Yes, officer, I was just coming up the Claremont Access,” court heard in the 911 call. “And I hit something. I don’t know what it was … I got out and I didn’t want anybody to think that I was fleeing an accident.”
McPhee spells his name, provides his phone number and licence plate number of his black 2007 Toyota Tundra.
“We’ll get somebody to get in touch with you,” the call taker says.
A while later when McPhee and his wife, Donna, leave to pick up their teenage daughter from the lower city, they leave a note for police on the door with their cell number.
When they get to the Claremont Access, the upbound lanes are shut down.
“We see everything roped off and an ambulance there and police there,” McPhee testified.
He said he then deleted two phone calls from cellphone log — calls he claims to have made while parked before the collision. He said his wife told him to delete them so nobody would think he’d been on his phone illegally while driving.
A police forensic “extraction report” shows those calls were deleted.
“I wasn’t trying to hide anything,” McPhee said.
“I would suggest that is exactly what you were trying to do,” countered assistant Crown attorney Nancy Flynn. She suggested McPhee was on the phone at the moment he struck Keddy and that’s why he deleted the calls.
The accused became angry at that point and his daughter fled, upset, from the courtroom.
Court also heard McPhee called his lawyer and told him about the bang and the ambulance. His lawyer advised him to call police again.
So he did.
“I’m worried,” he told the call taker. “I want to address this.”
Though McPhee offered to go to the police station, the call taker told him to go home.
When he arrived, he was arrested on the sidewalk and charged with leaving the scene of an accident. The detective who laid the charge had not been told about McPhee’s first call to police.
That charge was withdrawn within hours. It wasn’t until four months later that McPhee was charged with careless driving.
Final submissions take place Thursday.
Source: The Hamilton Spectator