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'I thought he was dead': Witnesses recall moment U-Haul hit pedestrians
EDMONTON -- One day after a pair of victims testified about the night they were hit by a speeding U-Haul, court heard from several people who witnessed the event.
“It was going so fast that it screeched around the corner,” said Jolene Stromecky, who was standing in the alleyway next to The Pint on 109 Street that night.
“It got very loud and bright. And then I heard a bang and the U-Haul went past us,” she said.
That bang was the sound of the U-Haul hitting her friend, Paul Biegel, who testified at the trial on Wednesday.
The Crown alleges that truck was being driven by Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, who pleaded not guilty 11 charges, including five of attempted murder.
Sharif is accused of hitting Edmonton Police Const. Mike Chernyk with a car and stabbing him multiple times before driving a U-Haul truck through downtown Edmonton and striking and injuring four people on Sept. 30, 2017.
On Day 7 of the trial, Biegel’s friend, Eric Krochak, testified he was facing west with the U-Haul coming at him. He said Biegel’s back was to the approaching U-Haul, which struck Biegel in the back of the legs.
“Paul was popped up into the air onto the hood and almost the windshield of the truck,” said Krochak, who added that he watched Biegel roll off to the side of the truck into the vehicle’s side mirror.
“It ripped the mirror clean off the truck and shattered. Paul then flew multiple feet,” said Krochak.
From there, Krochak said he saw the U-Haul continue the wrong way (eastbound) down the one-day alley towards a group of people, who had their backs turned.
He said a woman managed to get out of the way, but a man disappeared from his vision behind the U-Haul.
“As the U-Haul sped away I remember seeing a man laying lifeless on the ground,” said Krochak on the witness stand.
”I thought he was dead,” he later added.
All four pedestrians survived.
Earlier in the day, the crown called two EPS peace officers to the witness stand.
Const. Colleen Benne, a fingerprint analyst, testified that a fingerprint found on the knife allegedly used to stab Chernyk matched the right middle finger of Sharif.
Chernyk had earlier testified that the knife was recovered from the area he was stabbed, near Commonwealth Stadium.
Sharif is representing himself in court, but as he’s done throughout the duration of the trial, declined to cross-examine any witnesses, speaking through a Somali translator. The trial continues on Friday.