Court hears conflicting testimony

It's been an emotional start to the trial of Michael Schmidt. The first day of testimony ended with both Schmidt and his family in tears as a video interview of his police interview was played for the court.

It’s been an emotional start to the trial of Michael Schmidt.

The first day of testimony ended with both Schmidt and his family in tears as a video interview of his police interview was played for the court.

Schmidt, 30, faces six charges stemming from a December 2009 car accident that severely injured two of his friends, leaving one, Jessica Frotten, confined to a wheelchair.

The charges include both impaired driving causing bodily harm and the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm.

Schmidt broke down several times during the police interview with Const. Derek Turner on the day of the crash.

When told Frotten had been medevaced to Edmonton for surgery on her back, Schmidt began to sob uncontrollably.

“Oh my God, Jess, Oh my God she might die,” he said between sobs. “She was looking right at me, smiling.”

It took several minutes for him to regain composure.

“I’ll never make up for it,” he said. “I hurt my friend – I’ll never be able to sleep again.”

The court heard testimony from several witnesses describing what happened the day of the crash.

The day before, Michael Sanderson, 31, had returned home to Whitehorse on leave from the Navy.

He and Schmidt spent the night drinking in a cabin on Hot Springs Road.

The next day they drove in to Whitehorse.

Sanderson said he continued drinking throughout the day, but Schmidt didn’t.

They met up with Frotten and picked up some beer at the Yukon Brewery where she worked.

The trio had lunch at the Airport Chalet where they shared a pitcher of beer.

Heather Steinhagen, their waitress, testified she didn’t think Schmidt was intoxicated when they left the restaurant.

Frotten testified all three were drinking beer in the car after lunch, something Schmidt denied in his interview with police.

They were on their way to Haines Junction when Schmidt lost control of his grey Honda Civic a few kilometres past the Takhini River Bridge.

Speed may have been a factor.

They were going 140 kilometres an hour – so fast that she hit her head when the car went over a bump, said Frotten.

Sanderson testified he didn’t have any concerns about Schmidt’s sobriety or speed. Though Sanderson admitted to being very drunk at the time.

In his police interview Schmidt denies speeding.

He said the car started hitting frost heaves, so he started to slow down and that’s when he lost control of the car.

“I didn’t see a bump or anything,” he said. “It just threw the car sideways into the ditch.”

Schmidt, who was wearing his seatbelt, was uninjured, but both Sanderson and Frotten were thrown from the vehicle.

Sanderson broke his right shoulder, left leg, multiple ribs and tore the ligaments in his left knee.

Frotten was severely injured.

She suffered a broken back, torn aorta, broken feet, punctured lungs, several broken ribs and a concussion.

School bus driver Charlie Mackenzie was the first on the crash site.

He radioed for help.

Soon after, Eleanor Emke drove up.

She testified Schmidt didn’t seem intoxicated, though his clothes did smell of alcohol.

They all got into her pickup and headed to the hospital, but were met by Emergency Medical Services a few kilometres down the road.

The trial continues today.

Contact Josh Kerr at

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