Ava Stellinga and Rhea Lafferty have been found liable in incident (File photo)

Couple who denied driving at time of crash found liable by Kelowna judge

Two pedestrians were hit during incident when Range Rover sped through red light

A couple who both denied being behind the wheel of a 2017 crash that injured two pedestrians have been found liable by a B.C. Supreme Court justice.

The couple claimed that neither one of them was driving a Range Rover that smashed into a pickup truck and then into two people on the sidewalk on Water Street in Kelowna, back on Feb. 4, 2017.

Ava Stellinga, the owner of the Range Rover in question, claimed she had been driving with her boyfriend Rhea Lafferty earlier in the evening to a party at the Delta Grand Hotel on Water Street. After an argument occurred between the two, they said they left the party on separate occasions leaving the Range Rover parked near the hotel.

READ MORE: Two-vehicle crash near Harvey Ave in Kelowna

Lafferty said that he walked south to head to a party by Kelowna General Hospital while Stellinga said she flagged down a cab to head home. Both were living together at the time.

Shortly after, plaintiffs Riley Gillespie and Renne Savaia said they were walking down Water Street in a snowstorm when they saw the Range Rover run a red light and hit a pickup truck. The force of the collision caused the Range Rover to drive up onto the sidewalk striking Gillespie and Savaia.

Metodi Sariyski, the owner of the pickup truck, said he saw a man exit the driver’s door and run across Water Street.

Stellinga said she stumbled upon the crash scene while taking the cab home from the party.

Despite Lafferty’s claims that he was at a house party at the time of the accident, Justice Warren said phone records and testimonials show that Lafferty was, in fact, the driver.

“Mr. Lafferty had the opportunity to take the Range Rover when he left the party. There is nothing to suggest the Range Rover was broken into or hotwired,” said Warren.

“I did not find Mr. Lafferty’s evidence credible. I reject his evidence that he was not the driver.”

At the time Lafferty used the pseudonym Matthew Fortune, although this is not his name.

Justice Warren said Stellinga was vicariously liable in the incident because she was living with Lafferty at the time of the incident.

Justice Warren said Stellinga forfeited her third party liability insurance for the Range Rover when she gave a false testimonial concerning her ICBC claim.

“She gave the impression that she first became aware of the accident when she coincidentally came upon the scene while in a cab on the way home,” said Warren.

“In fact, she knew Mr. Lafferty had taken the Range Rover and gotten into the accident before she got into the cab.”

In Stellinga’s ICBC statement she said she didn’t know who was driving her Range Rover during the time of the incident, however, she allegedly told a police officer at the crash scene she believed Lafferty was driving the vehicle.

Parties now have 60 days to contact the B.C. registry to secure a date for a costs hearing.

To view the full report, you can visit BC Courts website.


@connortrembley
connor.trembley@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Princeton volunteers share amazing memories of Vancouver Olympic games

A decade ago this month, Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Approximately… Continue reading

Interior Health leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

The marrying of magic and dance – Celtic Illusion

Tickets still available for the Celtic Illusion show which starts at 8 p.m. this Saturday at SOEC

Racist incidents on the rise in the Okanagan as coronavirus spreads

UBC professor not surprised by recent incidents

Summerland Steam and Princeton Posse to face off in division semifinals

Junior B hockey teams begin best of seven series on Feb. 28 in Princeton

VIDEO: Minister says consider coronavirus outbreak when planning for spring break

Foreign Affairs minister points to rash of new cases appearing in places like Italy and Iran

Trucking company fined $175K for Lemon Creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. city rebrands with new logo, cheeky slogan

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

RCMP asking for more officers to better enforce speed limit on Trans Canada Highway

City council will bring the motion to the Southern Interior Local Government Association

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Donations pour in for family who lost father, son in fatal crash on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Beer and burgers to raise cash for Vernon man fighting cancer

Fundraiser hosted in honour of Garnet the Great to send him to special treatment centre

HERGOTT: Idiocy of distracted driving

Paul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer based in West Kelowna

Kelowna man arrested after all-night crime spree

Shawn Bell, 33, is facing seven charges for incidents committed within a 24-hour span

Most Read