A Vancouver man is facing a charge of impaired driving causing death in a Whitehorse courtroom this week.

On July 8, 2010, Christopher Maxwell-Smith, 27, was behind the wheel of an SUV carrying four of his co-workers. The vehicle rolled near Pelly Crossing and one man died at the scene. 

Maxwell-Smith's mother sat directly behind her son in an otherwise empty courtroom during the proceedings Monday. Both listened intently as one of the co-workers who was in the vehicle at the time of the accident described Maxwell-Smith as a leader.

Dustin Cloutier, 23, told court that the day started out "like any other day".

Cloutier said the crew had been doing repair work on the Pelly River Bridge. After work, Cloutier told the court that Maxwell-Smith and the rest of the crew had been drinking beer before deciding to pile into the SUV and drive to Carmacks, Yukon, to buy groceries.

The group was on the road for about 15 minutes when the SUV hit a patch of gravel, went into a ditch and rolled. The man who died was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle.

Cloutier told the court that he tried performing CPR on the lifeless body of his co-worker. The group flagged down a vehicle on the road and called the police and paramedics. By the time the paramedics arrived, they told the group that there was nothing more they could do.

The remaining co-workers, police, paramedics and several medical experts are all expected to testify over the next five days.