A Barrie mom who was killed by alleged street racers waited 53 seconds before she decided it was safe to pull out and make a left turn, a court heard Tuesday.
By the 54th second, she was dead.
Theresa Wisch, 45, a paramedic, was killed instantly while her 13-year-old son was rendered unconscious beside her as their mangled Toyota Corolla came to a stop after a black BMW crashed into them April 4, 2014.
In closing arguments, lawyers insisted the 17-year-old drivers of the BMW and a white Mazda, who witnesses say were driving “neck-to-neck,” were not racing each other.
The two drivers, now 20, have pleaded not guilty to street racing causing death and street racing causing bodily harm. Neither can be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
“This was a tragic case that involved a momentary inattention,” said Terry Hawtin, who represents the BMW driver. “It was unfortunate that Ms. Wisch proceeded into the lane the way she did … with catastrophic results.”
Several witnesses testified they saw the young men racing between 80 and 120 km/h in the commercial area of town where the speed limit is 60 km/h.
“I thought, ‘woah, woah, they are going way too fast’ — easily, easily, over 100 km/h,” eyewitness James Bruce, a professional engineer from Alliston, said in previous testimony.
He said he saw the BMW go by like “a shot,” with the Mazda trailing close behind.
“I told my wife, something bad is going to happen.”
The lawyer for the Mazda driver, Peter Brauti, insists the eyewitnesses were well-meaning, but mistaken.
“Their evidence is far, far, from reality,” Brauti said, noting it is difficult for non-experts to judge speed with any accuracy.
The Crown argued it doesn’t matter what the speed was.
“It’s the race that created the danger — not the speed,” Crown attorney Fred Temple said.
The Crown also questioned the Mazda driver’s testimony.
“His testimony was scripted, contrived and nonsensical,” Temple said, asking the judge to consider the fact that although the teen was an eyewitness to a catastrophe, he didn’t stop and didn’t call 911. Instead, Temple pointed out, the driver went shopping at a nearby store and when he left, his girlfriend took the wheel “to avoid detection.”
Brauti admitted the teens may be guilty of making “moral mistakes,” but “they did nothing criminal.”
Justice Robert Gattrell will announce his verdict Oct. 5.