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

Okanagan Spirits donating free sanitizer to those most at risk during COVID-19 pandemic

The Okanagan distillery has ceased spirits operations and has produced over 3,000 litres of sanitizer since March 26

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Living with faith

Bea Buhler is a pillar of strength at the Alliance Church

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Second Vernon-area high school exposed to COVID-19

Kalamalka Secondary School staff, students urged to self-isolate if showing symptoms

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

Vehicle goes up in smoke in Okanagan garage

Fire department on-scene in 200 block of Poplar Point Drive near Knox Mountain in Kelowna

COSAR rescues two lost hikers from Okanagan Mountain Park

Two male hikers were overdue from a hike they left for on the morning of March 28

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

Okanagan women spending quarantine making masks

Group at Predator Ridge, and a colleague in Vernon, keeping busy making surgical masks for others

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Most Read