On Tuesday, May 5, we arrived at the courthouse at 9 am. In addition to the news media, and the public who filled about half of the 100 seat courtroom. We do not know why the other parents are not attending but we can understand why they find it too difficult to sit through the testimony. Everyone experiences this differently and we can completely understand their reluctance. But for us, we have to attend and we plan to be there every single minute over the next two weeks asking questions of the witnesses.
RCMP OFFICER, MARIO DUPUIS - FIRST WITNESS AT THE SCENE
The next witness had a difficult task as he was the first person on the scene and he just happened to be an RCMP officer returning to Bathurst from a call in the Acadian Peninsula. It was extremely difficult for all of us to watch Const. Dupuis as he tried to compose himself at the start of his testimony. He was obviously in distress, he cried and you could see him bracing himself to speak about his arrival at the crash scene. After taking a few deep breaths, and wiping his eyes with a kleenex, he began to speak, confirming what we thought about the weather that night. He called the weather "dirty" and described how the roads were slushy. He also spoke of encountering Mr. Lord, the driver, and how "professional" Mr. Lord acted, considering that his wife had just been killed, his daughter and two others were injured, and that seven of his team members were dead.
COULDN'T BELIEVE OUR EARS
To our shock, Const. Dupuis said he would let Mr. Lord drive his children any day. We can't understand how this RCMP officer could make such a statement, knowing Mr. Lord's testimony of the day before, when he admitted that he knew little to nothing about the Guidelines, Policies, Regulations and Acts governing the transportation of children to off-site, extra-curricular activities, that he hadn't filled out a pre-trip inspection log for more than two years, that he didn't know the difference between a winter tire and an all-season tire, and that he made no effort to contact anyone in Bathurst to see what the weather was like on the return trip to Bathurst, a simple call that could have made a difference. If we knew then what we knew now, Mr. Lord wouldn't be driving our children that night.
Next was the Meteorologist, who confirmed what we knew through our research on the Environment Canada website that the weather was TERRIBLE that night. Everything he said was what we had been saying all along. Our children should NOT have been on that road that night and it was made abundantly clear through his report which he read to the jury and the audience.
NEED TO USE LCD PROJECTOR WITH LAPTOP AND INTERNET CONNECTION TO SHOW WEBSITES REFERRED TO IN TESTIMONY
However, since much of what the Meteorologist was speaking about involved the Environment Canada website, it would have made a considerable difference in understanding his testimony had the Coroner and Crown Prosecutor provided a visual aid by hooking up a LCD Project to a Laptop with an internet connection so everyone could see what the Meteorologist was actually talking about, because we believe that a lot of what he said was lost on the jury. The only reason we understood what he was talking about is because we are familiar with the Environment Canada website through our research into the weather conditions that night. It seems a simple thing to do and I believe it would add considerably to everyone's understanding of the witness testimony.
SUGGESTION TO CORONER and CROWN PROSECUTOR
One suggestion that we feel the Coroner and Crown Prosecutor should take as "good advice" is to start using a LCD project hooked up to a laptop with an Internet Connection so we can either navigate to those websites and see them on the large screen that has been sitting to the left of the Crown Prosecutor but has not been used yet.
After the one hour break we returned at 1:30 to hear the testimony of the senior Pathologist at the Bathurst Hospital, who confirmed the cause of death of Justin Cormier, Daniel Hains and Nick Kelly. This was really hard to listen to. The Crown Prosecutor made sure the Pathologist didn't go into too much detail: it wasn't necessary. We know better than anyone how our children were killed, having read the autopsy results ourselves a long time ago so there is very little that can shock us but really, this is something no parent should ever have to do, listen to a pathologist describe the last moments of your child's life.
ROAD PATROL DRIVER WITH DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Due to a conflict in schedules, the other two pathologists who performed the autopsies of Javier Acevedo, Elisabeth Lord, Nick Quinn, Codey Branch and Nathan Cleland appeared AFTER the next witness, a man who works for the Department of Transportation travelling the roads of New Brunswick in the winter "to make sure they are safe." After listening to his testimony, we can't understand how he makes the road safe because all he seems to do is get into a nice car (a rented Hyundai 4X4 with winter tires), driving from Bathurst to Tabusintac and back all day and night. He keeps a diary of his travels and writes down what he sees, for example, that night he said at 9:20 pm there was a lot of snow. He keeps driving and then at 5 am goes back to his headquarters, fills out a report and gives it to his supervisor. How that keeps roads safe is beyond us. He doesn't report to anyone to tell them that there is a lot of snow or slush at a certain point along the road. Frankly, we were astonished at this man's testimony. If the government took the money from his job and put it into paying Class 2 drivers for our children then we might actually see something positive out of our tax dollars because what he does for a living seems to be a complete waste of time.
SNOW PLOW OPERATOR
The last witness of the day was the snow plow operator, a french speaking man who had a translator help him with his testimony. He described the weather as a "cocktail" - a deadly cocktail indeed. This was the most difficult, confusing, and time wasting part of the entire day because that poor man couldn't seem to get his point across and it didn't help that we had absolutely no idea what he was talking about when he got off into describing his snow plow route, highway this, highway that, east, west, north, south. It was 90 minutes of complete confusion at the end
of his testimony.
WE NEED A LARGE MAP OF THE AREA THAT THE WITNESSES ARE TALKING ABOUT
We believe this witness MUST return for another session and that the jury and the audience MUST see a visual display of his testimony describing the map of his snow plow route that night. They have a great big white screen and there is NO EXCUSE for this Inquest to not have an LCD projector hooked up to a laptop with an internet connection. Using Googlemap we could zoom right into the area this man was talking about. Otherwise, his 90 minutes of testimony was a complete WASTE OF TIME, and we are not the only ones who feel that way. After his testimony was over, we spoke with the media and they all felt the same way.
WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY, WEDNESDAY MAY 6
On Day 3 We're expecting to hear from senior members of the Department of Transporation. Joining us are members of CUPE who specialize in snow plow operating because we are not going to let the Department of Transportation try to pull a fast one on us today.