Memorial for Travis Selje on 64th Avenue in Cloverdale, west of 176th Street. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

Memorial for Travis Selje on 64th Avenue in Cloverdale, west of 176th Street. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

Epilepsy-defence driver found not guilty in crash that killed Surrey teen Travis Selje

Accused testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision

Surrey woman Rituraj Kaur Grewal, 26, has been found not guilty of criminal negligence causing death in the 2017 traffic crash that killed Surrey teenager Travis Selje.

Justice Jeanne Watchuk delivered her verdict Thursday afternoon. She found the Crown had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The charges alone do not reflect the enormity of this tragedy,” she said, launching into her 47-page reasons for decision. After discussing her reasons for decision for more than two hours, Watchuk told Grewal, “You are free to leave the courtroom.”

“After consideration of the evidence, the facts as found based on the totality of the evidence, the law and the application of the law to these facts, all as set out above, I therefore find you Ms. Grewal not guilty on counts one, two and three.”

The judge found Grewal to be “continuingly troubled” by the collision and “deeply remorseful for the death of Travis and the harm done by her driving.”

Grewal had been driving her father’s Cadillac at age 22 when it slammed into Selje’s Honda Prelude at high speed on May 3, 2017 at the intersection of 64th Avenue and 176th Street in Cloverdale. The 17-year-old boy died in hospital two days later.

Grewal testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision. Watchuk found her to be a “forthright” witness and “credible in her evidence, generally.

“I accept her evidence in its entirety,” the judge said. She concluded Grewal was not controlling the Cadillac as it accelerated and changed lanes prior to the fatal crash.

She accepted that Grewal’s driving was consistent with the medical evidence presented by the defence that she suffered from a progression of epileptic seizures “wherein there is an increasing loss of motor control.”

“On the totallity of the evidence that Ms. Grewal was having an epileptic seizure,” she said, “the Crown has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it was unreasonable for Ms. Grewal to be driving a car on May 3rd, 2017.”

An RCMP forensic expert testified during the trial, which was heard in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, that the Cadillac was doing 142 km/h in a 60 km/h zone just prior to hitting Selje’s car.

“Which is 100 per cent throttle,” the judge noted. There was no evidence the Cadillac had mechanically malfunctioned.

READ ALSO: Judge to deliver verdict in Travis Selje case on April 22

READ ALSO: Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

READ ALSO: Crown says defence case epilepsy caused fatal Surrey crash fails on balance of probabilities

The court also heard during the trial that Grewal crashed into another car but kept going until she hit Selje’s car further on down the road. For that she was also charged with failing to remain at the scene of a collision, as well as criminal negligence causing bodily harm in the case of another driver, Gary Mordecai. Watchuk also acquitted her on these charges.

homelessphoto

Travis Selje

Selje’s death tore a hole in the community. The 1,095-seat Cloverdale Baptist Church was filled to capacity on May 17, 2017 as mourners celebrated the straight-A honour roll student’s life.

Selje’s father, Miki Selje, told the Now-Leader at the outset of the trial in February that there’s “no such thing” as closure.

“People always say, ‘Oh, you’re looking for closure.’ No. There’s no such thing as closure. It’s a wound that will never close, so there’s no closure,” he said.

“My soul is gone. I am no longer a whole person.”

Grewal testified during the trial that she has no criminal record.

According to court documents, however, Rituraj Kaur Grewal, age 26, has 10 traffic violations, nine of which were deemed by the courts to be “not disputed.”

Rituraj Kaur Grewal was ticketed on June 29, 2013 in Surrey for speeding and failing to display a new driver sign. On Sept. 3, 2013 she was ticketed for speeding in Vancouver, and found guilty. And on Nov. 3, 2015 she was ticketed in Surrey for failing to produce a drivers licence or insurance, and driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention.

On Nov. 19, 2015 she was ticketed in Surrey for “failing to yield after stop.” On Jan. 7, 2016 she was ticketed in Langley for failing to wear a seatbelt and on Nov. 19, 2016 she was ticketed in Langley for using an electronic device while driving.

On Dec. 16, 2016 she was ticketed for speeding, as well as driving without reasonable consideration.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram  and follow Tom on Twitter

BC Supreme CourtCloverdaleSurreyTraffic

Just Posted

Langley standup comedian Susan Thompson said the cost of her return-to-Canada quarantine in hotel was more than she made during a working trip to the U.S. (Canadian Press/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An expensive return home for Langley standup comedian

Susan Thompson scored work in Las Vegas, but a compulsory hotel COVID quarantine put her in the red

New Langley dining establishment The Barley Merchant was staffing up to open. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
With dining-in back on the menu, Langley restaurants are getting busy again

With the end of the ‘circuit breaker,’ staff are being hired and new looks are being unveiled

Langley teen Julia Kang has a new cross-trainer, thanks to the Sunshine Foundation charity (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley teen forced indoors by pandemic can still work out, thanks to donation

Charity makes dream of indoor cross-trainer come true

In two years, Langley City businessman Loyd Fowler’s tax bill has gone from $9,000 to $12,000. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
City business tax hike ‘crazy,’ business owner says

In two years, Loyd Fowler’s bill went from $9,000 to $12,000

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read