Mechanical failure, not driver fatigue, was to blame for a horrific crash west of the city that killed an elderly Invermere couple, a Calgary court was told Tuesday.

Moving van operator Christopher Boucha denied he fell asleep at the wheel before the rented Penske truck he was driving crossed the median on the Trans-Canada Highway into oncoming traffic.

Instead, he told defence counsel Chad Haggerty, he pulled left into the passing lane while eastbound on the highway and the truck continued to veer into the grassy median and into the westbound lanes.

Boucha, 53, faces eight charges, including two each of dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death in connection with the Aug. 11, 2021, collision near Morley which killed John Fox, 78, and Glenys Fox, 75.

He testified he was heading towards Calgary after being on the job for more than 24 hours when he lost control of the five-tonne moving van.

Boucha told Haggerty that despite attempts to brake as he hit the median and multiple tries at pulling the vehicle back to the right, it continued into the path of the Fox car.

A Crown witness had earlier testified he was behind Boucha when the truck veered across the median and he believed the driver was either texting or asleep.

But Boucha said he was fully awake and paying attention to the road ahead of him.

“It just kept going off (to the left),” he said.

“By then I was in the ditch … I know I hit the brakes to take it off cruise control.”

He said he jerked the steering wheel to the right on three occasions, but to no avail.

“The truck went left and it kept going left,” Boucha told his Calgary Court of King’s Bench trial.

“It didn’t turn (right), it went the other way, it kept going left.”

Boucha said his co-worker and passenger, Eldon Maytwayashing, yelled “hey” and he indicated he was trying to steer out of it.

He acknowledged he’d been driving for quite some time, having taken a break hours earlier near Golden, but only sleeping for 15 minutes.

“I was tired, yes, but I wasn’t overly tired,” he told Haggerty.

“I wasn’t falling asleep at the wheel.”

Under cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Vince Pingitore suggested Boucha was well beyond industry guidelines which stipulated drivers should take an eight-hour break after being on the road for 13 hours.

The prosecutor noted Boucha started work for Two Small Men With Big Hearts moving company at 8 a.m. Pacific time on Aug. 10 and the crash occurred after 11 a.m. Mountain time the following day.

“I wouldn’t say exhausted,” Boucha said when asked how tired he was.

“You were exhausted enough to take a nap,” Pingitore noted.

“Yes,” Boucha agreed.

The prosecutor also quizzed Boucha on his explanation for the crash to an off-duty Calgary police officer shortly after the collision.

Sgt. Martin Slater said he came across the carnage while driving to B.C. for a family vacation and approached Boucha.

“He said a gust of wind caused him to cross the median,” Slater testified last September.

“I asked him if it was windy,” Boucha explained, adding he was in shock following the crash.

Haggerty and Pingitore will make final submissions on Wednesday.

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