Driver in fatal crash ‘dozed off’ at wheel

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A truck driver accused of killing a 21-year-old model through careless driving told a bystander that he fell asleep at the wheel, a court heard yesterday.

Glenn Woods, a former emergency medical technician, told the Supreme Court that he heard truck driver Carlton Smith tell a woman after the crash that caused the death of Sophie Fraser-Smith that he thought he “had dozed off”.

The jury also heard from a crash investigator who said there was no evidence either vehicle braked before the collision.

The crash happened on Middle Road, Southampton, on July 18 last year, the day of the General Election, and Mr Woods told the court that he was at the polling station at Heron Bay Primary school.

He said: “I heard a loud crashing sound — there were two in rapid succession.”

Mr Woods said he saw the truck up against the wall and someone lying in the street.

“That’s when I ran towards the person. When I got closer to where all the debris was, I noticed a young lady lying in the road. There was a bike partly on her.”

Mr Woods said he spoke to Ms Fraser-Smith, but there was no response and that she struggled to breathe.

He said Genevieve Masters, a nurse he knew from the hospital, arrived to help.

Mr Woods said Ms Fraser-Smith stopped breathing “at least five times” while they administered first aid.

He said he stepped back when the EMTs arrived, and crossed the street, where he saw a man leaning against the wall.

Mr Woods added: “I just said to myself, ‘I wonder if that’s the driver?’ A young lady came up to him and indicated, ‘what happened?’.

“I was just a few feet from him. His words were: ‘I think I dozed off’.”

Mr Woods said Smith then moved his hands in a steering motion and added: “He said to her, ‘I think something locked up’.

“That’s all I heard. I left them there talking and went back to the polling station.”

Mr Smith, 41, denies causing the death of Ms Fraser-Smith by careless driving.

Defence lawyer Elizabeth Christopher suggested to Mr Woods that her client had said ‘the steering is f****d up’.

Mr Woods said that was not the case.

The court also heard evidence from Sergeant Preston Gill of the Bermuda Police Service, who arrived at the scene after Ms Fraser-Smith was taken to hospital.

Sergeant Gill explained he approached Mr Smith, who was visibly upset and refused medical attention for scratches to his leg.

He said Mr Smith told him that the truck did not respond as he meant it to when he approached the bend near the school.

Sergeant Gill added that Mr Smith started to cry and told him that he “tried to stop and avoid her”.

He added Mr Smith said: “The truck, the steering — there is an issue. I informed my job about it.”

Ms Masters told the court how she and Mr Woods battled to save the life of Ms Fraser-Smith, who was “unresponsive”.

Sergeant Olasunkanmi Akinmola, a police traffic collision investigator, said Ms Fraser-Smith’s bike came to a stop almost 19 metres (about 62 feet) east of where the impact took place and the truck crossed back into the eastbound lane and hit a wall.

She added: “As the driver negotiated the left-hand bend, available information suggests that the truck crossed the centre yellow line onto the opposing lane, which at this point suggests that the driver may not have been in control of the vehicle at the time.”

The jury also heard from an autopsy report that Ms Fraser-Smith died of massive internal injuries and multiple fractures, including to her spine.

A statement from Nicole Hart, an emergency room doctor at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, said Ms Fraser-Smith was pronounced dead at the hospital about 3.40pm.

It is /The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.

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