'We told her she was loved': Witnesses at father's drunk driving trial recall helping save friend

Calgary father Michael Shaun Bomford was drunk and speeding when he lost control of his Jeep, causing a crash that killed his 17-year-old daughter, says the Crown prosecutor.

Michael Shaun Bomford faces 6 charges in accident that killed his daughter, 17

Meghan Bomford, 17, was killed in a rollover on McKnight Boulevard N.E. in October 2016. Her father, Shaun Bomford, is on trial, accused of drunk driving causing death. (Facebook)

If Meghan Bomford's life could have been saved, all the right people had stopped to help at the crash scene: a volunteer firefighter, two nurses, a paramedic who had just finished work and numerous Good Samaritans.

And though Meghan's injuries were too severe to survive, those who pulled over on McKnight Boulevard on Oct. 18, 2016, likely saved the life of her best friend, 16-year-old Kelsey Nelson.

Michael Shaun Bomford is on trial in Calgary, accused in the crash that killed his 17-year-old daughter and seriously injured her best friend. He faces six charges, including impaired driving causing death and bodily harm, as well as dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm.

While working to save Nelson, those by her side, including Adam Bickerstaffe, comforted the 16-year-old Nelson, who was shaking and struggling to breathe.

"We told her she was loved and we were going to help her," said Bickerstaffe. "We said we loved her and people were on their way to help."

A couple in a pickup truck had pulled up. 

ER nurse Jan Ginther was driving with her husband Kurt, a volunteer firefighter, when they witnessed the crash. Both testified Monday afternoon.

The couple pulled over and immediately began attending to the injured victims.

Through tears, Jan recalled her husband telling her "Meghan is gone." But Jan wanted to be sure. 

"I pulled back Meghan's hoodie and what I saw indicated to me there was nothing that could be done for Meghan," she testified.

While Kurt ran to Bomford, Jan headed back to Nelson.

"Sitting there with her, I held her hand and she squeezed my hand and she gasped and she gurgled and I knew she was alive," said Jan. 

Bomford sobbed in the prisoner's box as the nurse described the horrific scene and her efforts to save the 16-year-old girl.

Nelson needed to be moved so she didn't choke. So Jan held Nelson's head between her knees and pulled her jaw forward to open the victim's airway, scooping blood out of the girl's mouth so she could breathe.

Jan had learned the girl's name: "I knew I had Kelsey." 

Blood-alcohol 3 times limit, Crown says

Before calling any witnesses on Monday, prosecutor Scott Wilson delivered an opening statement, telling the judge the Crown will call evidence showing Bomford had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit at the time of the crash and that he was travelling more than 30 km/h above the speed limit when he lost control of his SUV.

Meghan and Kelsey had been picked up by Bomford around 4:30 p.m. 

The girls wanted to become ringette coaches and Bomford was taking them to get criminal background checks done.

But Bomford had a blood-alcohol level well over the legal limit, according to Wilson's opening statement. 

Wilson said the prosecution will call evidence about text messages sent from Meghan to her mother, Bomford's ex-wife, about what was happening in the vehicle. 

The crash happened on McKnight Boulevard N.E. in Calgary. Bomford's Jeep Liberty was travelling west between 68th Street and 52nd Street N.E. when it went out of control, fishtailing in the far right lane.

The SUV rolled across the eastbound lanes, and all three people were thrown from the vehicle.

Meghan died in hospital shortly after the crash.

Nelson suffered a serious brain injury and has no memory of what led to the crash or the aftermath, said Wilson who described the crash as having "profound and tragic consequences." 

An accident reconstructionist is expected to testify Bomford was travelling at least 112 km/h in McKnight's 80 km/h zone when the Jeep lost control.

Bomford was also injured in the crash. He walked into the courtroom on Monday with a severe limp, using a cane. Bomford has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The judge-alone trial is being presided over by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Kristine Eidsvik and is set to last seven days. 

Defence lawyer James Wyman is representing Bomford.


Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is CBC Calgary's justice affairs reporter. She has been covering courts, crime and stories of police accountability in southern Alberta for more than a decade. Send Meghan a story tip at or follow her on Twitter.