Former RCMP Inspect. Tim Walton ties police tape at the scene of a multi-vehicle collision at the intersection of Cliffe Avenue and 26th Street July 26, 2016. Black Press File Photo

Trial to conclude Wednesday for Comox Valley driver of vehicle involved in pedestrian death

The woman involved in a trial for a multi-vehicle collision in which a pedestrian was killed two years ago in Courtenay admitted she was aware she was over the legal limit for alcohol prior to driving.

Serina Laliberte – who took the stand for the defence – is facing nine charges, including impaired driving causing death, causing an accident resulting in death and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

She has pled not guilty to all nine charges.

On July 26, 2016, a Nissan Pathfinder travelling in the northbound lane on Cliffe Avenue struck a pedestrian, proceeded to hit two other vehicles near the intersection and then crashed into parked cars in a nearby parking lot.

A male pedestrian in his early 70s was rushed to hospital, along with the drivers of two other vehicles stopped at the intersection of Cliffe Avenue and 26th Street. The male pedestrian later died in hospital.

RELATED: Courtenay trial for driver of vehicle involved in pedestrian death to continue next month

The trial began last month and was scheduled for five days in Courtenay Supreme Court, but was carried over to Oct. 2 and 3 as both the defence and Crown agreed they needed more time.

On Tuesday, Laliberte, 48, took the stand as her lawyer Eric Chesterley questioned her medical background, particularly her history with diabetes.

She noted she found out she had type 2 diabetes in 2013 but admitted she did not regularly take Metformin, her diabetes medication. The night before the incident, she said she slept periodically throughout the night and did not eat breakfast or take her medication.

Laliberte testified she had “two or three” drinks during the evening of July 25, 2016 while socializing with her mother-in-law. Her last drink that evening was a water bottle filled with vodka and pop. She said she didn’t finish the final drink, and placed the water bottle back in the fridge.

On the morning of July 26, while waiting for her friends for a day at Comox Lake, Laliberte took the water bottle and poured its contents into a coffee cup, in which she was “sipping on the drink poured from the previous night.”

As her friends arrived, she took them on a tour of her house and backyard, and “downed (what was left in the cup) before we left.”

Chesterley questioned if she felt the effects of the vodka and mixer prior to getting into her vehicle, which she replied she did not, and asked if she felt her ability to drive was impaired.

“I don’t think so,” she replied.

During cross-examination, Crown attorney Richard Ellsay pressed Laliberte to determine how much she drank regularly, particularly after she was diagnosed as a diabetic. She explained it varied on the week – sometimes it was twice a week and other times it was four or fives times a week.

Laliberte said she tried to change her drinking pattern after her diagnosis, as her doctor at the time warned her it was best to drink in moderation.

He questioned her on how much vodka was in the water bottle from which she was drinking. She said at least half was filled with vodka, and said it was roughly 8 to 10 ounces during the span of a couple of hours while waiting for her friend.

She testified there was more alcohol content than mix, but added she had never blacked out from drinking.

“You were aware you were over (the blood alcohol limit)?” questioned Ellsay.

“Yea, I guess – didn’t even think about it.”

Laliberte explained in front of the court she believes she blacked out as her last memory prior to “coming to near a big white truck I crashed into” was driving north into Courtenay while approaching the intersection at Cliffe Avenue and Anfield Road.

Laliberte provided a roadside breathalyzer and failed.

The verdict for the trial is set for November.

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