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Driver says he didn't see cyclist before fatal hit

The Toronto Sun: Driver says he didn’t see cyclist before fatal hit

By TONY BLAIS, COURT BUREAU

Last Updated: 27th October 2009, 4:22am

Despite three witnesses all saying they saw a 77-year-old man riding his bicycle in a crosswalk, the city bylaw officer who fatally struck him claims he never saw the cyclist.

Testifying in his own defence yesterday at his provincial court trial on a charge of making an unsafe left turn, Francis Grosvenor said he didn’t see anyone in the crosswalk as he turned west onto 111 Avenue from Groat Road.

"As I was making my turn, I couldn’t see him," he said. "I didn’t know I hit him until I saw him on my windshield."

Court heard Sandor Baracskay, 77, had been riding his bicycle southbound in the crosswalk across 111 Avenue about 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2008, when he was struck by a left-turning city bylaw car driven by Grosvenor, 33.

Baracskay died in hospital as a result of his injuries four days later.

The drivers of the two vehicles that were directly behind Grosvenor and also turning left at the intersection testified they saw the cyclist in the crosswalk as did a teen who had been skateboarding in a nearby parking lot.

Grosvenor told court the setting sun "could have affected" his vision and said he was not speeding.

"I didn’t see anyone. I looked and didn’t see," he said.

Under questioning by Judge Peter Ayotte, Grosvenor admitted he was unfamiliar with Groat Road and had earlier missed his turn to get back to the south side, but maintained he was not in a hurry, had done all the usual checks and saw nobody in the crosswalk.

"I don’t know why I didn’t see him," he said. "It could have been he was moving too fast."

Further discrepancies in the evidence were that Grosvenor testified it was a turning light, while others said it was a solid green, and Grosvenor told court an ambulance was behind him when it turned out there was another vehicle in between him and the ambulance.

In closing arguments, defence lawyer Allan Fay pointed out the cyclist was contravening a bylaw by being in the crosswalk on a bicycle and suggested the senior had proceeded without any regard for the traffic.

Fay also argued his client had done all due diligence and concluded by saying the death was simply "an accident."

Crown prosecutor Wayne Gardner argued it was "self-serving" of Grosvenor to testify that he never saw the cyclist in the crosswalk despite three others, including the two drivers directly behind Grosvenor, seeing him.

"I submit Mr. Grosvenor was simply not paying enough attention," said Gardner.

Ayotte reserved his decision until Dec. 2.

Grosvenor, who is currently working as a security guard, had been employed as a bylaw officer at the time of the collision through a city contract with Paladin Security.