Calgary

Witness testifies she smelled alcohol on truck driver's breath

A witness at a Calgary manslaughter trial testified Tuesday that she smelled alcohol on the breath of a cement truck driver after the vehicle smashed into the back of a car at a southeast intersection.

A witness at a Calgary manslaughter trial testified Tuesday that she smelled alcohol on the breath of a cement truck driver after his vehicle smashed into the back of a car at a southeast intersection.

Daniel Tschetter, 50, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of manslaughter, five counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of obstruction in the crash that killed five people in December 2007.

Witness Melissa Leblanc said she was merging onto Macleod Trail when she saw the cement truck coming through the intersection.

After she heard the sound of a crash, she saw a car being dragged underneath the truck.

"There was sparks and debris flying everywhere and they were coming in my lane," Leblanc said. "So I had to slow down or they would have hit me."

Leblanc parked her car and ran over to see if anyone was still alive.

The driver of the car was smashed up against the steering wheel and she watched a passenger try to lift up her head.

Then she approached Tschetter and asked him if he was OK.

"Right away I smelled alcohol," she told the court.

"He was almost incoherent. He said something like, 'I am fine,' and then he walked away."

Under cross-examination, Leblanc said she recognized the smell of alcohol because she waitressed in bars for years.

Truck going about 120 km/h: witness

Derek Zimmer, another witness, testified he was a passenger in his fiancée's car that night.

He had just turned to speak to her when he saw saw the cement truck hit a car at a speed he estimated to be about 120 kilometres an hour.

"It flew quite quickly through the intersection," he said.

Zimmer said he didn't see the truck's brake lights come on until it had travelled a couple of hundred metres from the intersection.

On Monday, several witnesses testified they saw a cement truck driving erratically in the moments before the crash.

Chris Gautreau, 41, his daughters, Alexia, 9, and Kiarra, 6, Gautreau's fiancée, Melaina Hovdebo, 33, and her son, Zachary, 16 months, were killed in the crash.

The trial is expected to continue through to next week.

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