Abbotsford chicken farmer Kerry Froese was listed as the principal operator of the SUV that struck and killed Ronald James Scott five years ago, but it will be up to a judge to decide if circumstantial evidence will be enough to confirm that Froese was behind the wheel when Scott was fatally injured in 2015.
Froese, who was charged in 2016 with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, is standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack this week.
Scott was struck and killed as he pedalled his bike along Mt. Lehman Road the night of Jan. 29, 2015.
His body was spotted around 11:21 p.m. By that time, Scott was already dead, and blood had pooled under his head. The wheel of his bike was in the middle of the road, and other debris littered Mt. Lehman Road.
The vehicle that struck Scott was nowhere to be seen.
Crown counsel Rob Macgowan told the court Monday that the case would centre on the question of whether Froese was behind the wheel. Macgowan conceded that the evidence against Froese “is entirely circumstantial.”
Froese was the general manager of the company that owned the vehicle and was the vehicle’s principal operator on insurance documents.
The company that owned the SUV, Triple F Enterprises, was owned by Froese’s parents.
Macgowan said Monday that Froese’s wife and mother both said they were not driving the vehicle the night of the crash, and had not known about its whereabouts in June 2015, when the damaged SUV was found and seized by police.
Froese’s father will be called by Crown as a witness later in the week.
The first witness to be called was Daniel Reimer, who was driving home from a family visit when his wife spotted something resembling a body on the side of Mt. Lehman Road.
Reimer doubled back, and found the body on the side of the road, with the remnants of a bicycle nearby.
Reimer and another motorist determined Scott was dead, and police quickly arrived at the scene.
An autopsy later found that Scott had sustained massive injuries consistent with being struck forcefully from behind by a vehicle. Scott likely died soon after the collision, a forensic pathologist declared.
No one witnessed the crash, and police issued a call for information from the public. They also collected video surveillance from businesses and homes in the area.
By April, their investigation had begun to focus on Froese. Officers began surveillance on Froese and attached a tracking device to a pickup truck he frequently drove.
At least twice, officers visited Froese’s Huntingdon Road property and surreptitiously installed new tracking devices.
In June, police seized a grey 2013 Ford Expedition belonging to Froese’s company. Forensic analysts collected DNA from the damaged front end of the SUV. The DNA matched that of Scott.
The trial continues.
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