Jacob McGrimmon may have survived a crash which killed two of his friends in Calabogie back in 2017, but remembering much of what happened that night has proven difficult.
The Renfrew 22-year-old spent most of Tuesday, April 27, in the witness box during the trial of Ann Senack, who faces four criminal charges and is accused of having served alcohol to McGrimmon and four of his friends a few hours before they were involved in a deadly crash on October 27, 2017.
Brandon Hanniman and Alex Paquette died after the car they were travelling in crashed into a rock face near Burnstown early that morning.
McGrimmon acknowledged that he and Ben Scheuneman, the other survivor of the crash, along with Hanniman and Paquette were all 18-years old and members of the Renfrew Timberwolves hockey team when they consumed a variety of alcoholic beverages at Shooters Bar & Grill prior to leaving the Calabogie bar around midnight. They were headed back to Renfrew when the car, driven by Hanniman, crashed.
McGrimmon testified from an undisclosed location via videolink as the case is being tried virtually. His testimony was witnessed not only by the court officers and the accused, but close to 70 additional visitors watched the proceedings while he was questioned throughout the day.
Despite being questioned by the Crown for close to five hours, McGrimmon offered very little insight or new information regarding the time spent at the bar or time spent inside the car moments before the crash. He testified he has very little recollection of the evening except that while driving back to Renfrew, Hanniman caught the shoulder of the road and overcorrected causing the collision. He also confirmed he was in the front seat of the car when they crashed.
Aside from that, the majority of McGrimmon's responses were one-word answers, or he would say “I don’t remember,” or “I don’t recall.”
For most of Tuesday afternoon, the assistant-Crown attorney spent a great deal of time reviewing video recordings of the four young men inside the bar hours before the crash. The video showed several interactions between the accused and the four young men.
However, McGrimmon was unable to give any context of conversations between the young men and Ann Senack. During the course of the evening, McGrimmon moved from a table and sat at the bar and video showed Senack and McGrimmon making small talk, but he said he could not recall any details of their conversations.
At several points during the questioning the Crown repeatedly asked the witness if he appeared to be impaired. “I don’t know,” the witness replied.
When the crown asked if McGrimmon had been drinking before going to Shooters Bar & Grill he didn’t know. McGrimmon also wasn’t sure if alcohol was available in the car when they were driving to the bar.
Video evidence, along with bar receipts show the five young men drinking two pitchers of beer, four bottles of beer, five rum and cokes, two Caesars, 21 polar bear shots, two porn star shots, three Burt Reynolds shots and four shots of tequila in a two-hour time period.
McGrimmon is scheduled to be back on the stand Wednesday, April 28, to complete his testimony before he is cross examined by the defence.
Following McGrimmon’s testimony, defence counsel Tony Paciocco raised serious concerns about the timeliness of disclosure items presented to the defence from the Crown. During Tuesday’s testimony, defence counsel were presented with the full OPP investigative collision report. It was a 170-page very detailed report which the defence only received at that point.
There was some question about how long it took the defence to receive the information with the defence counsel appearing visibly frustrated at receiving such a crucial piece of information at the late date. Upon questioning it was determined the information was prepared April 8, 2021, even though the accident occurred in 2017.
Included in the comprehensive report was 90 pages of new information, and for the first time, a formal accident collision report including weather records, new photos and indications on the speed the vehicle was travelling at the time of the crash.
Although the trial is expected to resume Wednesday, defence council indicated they may seek an adjournment in order to fully examine the late disclosure of the investigative collision report. It is not known if they may use the late disclosure as part of their defence strategy.
Several legal scholars are following the Senack trial proceedings. In the event the former bartender is found guilty, it may be the first time in Ontario that an employee has been charged in relation to serving alcohol leading to a fatality.
The trial was slated to use five full days this week. Four weeks have been set aside for the trial and if needed, future dates reserved for case are May 10-14 and July 20-21. An additional two days are also reserved for summations by the Crown and the defence.