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Defence experts weigh-in on McCallum parking lot incident

Biomechanical engineer estimates that if Surrey’s outgoing mayor had been run over, his foot would have felt the weight of 413 kilograms from the rear of slow-moving car.
Outgoing Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum in the parking lot after court earlier this week | Photo: Bob Mackin

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum could have escaped a broken foot if he was run over in a Save-On-Foods parking lot, a Provincial Court judge heard on Wednesday. 

McCallum’s defence team called expert witnesses who analyzed aspects of the Sept. 4, 2021, incident. McCallum complained to police that Keep the RCMP in Surrey activist Debi Johnstone drove over his left foot in her Mustang, but Mounties instead investigated McCallum for making false statements. 

The Peace Arch Hospital expert who analyzed McCallum’s x-ray said there was a “moderate degree of soft tissue swelling” of his left foot, toward his small toe. But Dr. Hamed Basseri said there was no evidence of fractures or malalignment of bones or joints. 

Under cross-examination, Basseri said he did not conduct a physical exam.

“You're not able to say what degree of soft tissue swelling may have been present, the day before or the week before, anything like that, correct?” asked Special Prosecutor Richard Fowler.

“That's correct,” Basseri replied.

“And, of course, you didn't examine the right foot so you can't tell us whether there was any moderate soft tissue swelling of the right foot, for example,” said Fowler, who also suggested McCallum may have had pre-existing fluid buildup in his feet.

Basseri replied: “That’s correct.”

Biomechanical engineer Dennis Chimich of Vancouver consultancy MEA Forensic estimated that if McCallum had been run over, his foot would have felt the weight of 413 kilograms from the rear of Johnstone’s slow-moving car. 

“Data do support, however, that feet can be run over by vehicle tires, with the expectation of an absence of fractures,” Chimich said.

Chimich based his report on images of McCallum’s shoes (Adidas size 10 with a padded tongue), the vehicle and the parking lot. 

“The contact between the right rear tire of the Mustang and that outer aspect of Mr. McCallum’s left forefoot provides an injury mechanism for that objective swelling that was identified by the radiologist,” Chimich said.

Collision reconstruction engineer Bradley Heinrichs of MEA Forensic testified that he conducted a site visit and produced a 3-D imaging analysis. 

Heinrichs detected McCallum’s head move down and arms move back as the vehicle turned. He also noted rear tires generally don’t follow the same radius as the front tires during a tight turn, but could not precisely pinpoint McCallum’s position. Shrubs in a traffic island obscure McCallum below his thighs, as captured by the Save-On-Foods outward-looking camera. 

“Did you come to a conclusion then about the rear wheel tire of the Mustang and whether it was possible that it could have contacted Mr. McCallum’s foot?” asked McCallum’s lawyer Eric Gottardi.

Heinrichs replied: “If you’re standing close enough, the rear tire would have tracked to the Mustang’s right but towards Mr. McCallum, compared to the side of the Mustang. So if you'd be standing close enough, yes, it could have.”

Crown witness Sgt. Andre Johnny of the RCMP testified Tuesday that police could not determine whether McCallum was run over. McCallum, he said, was not pinned by Johnstone’s vehicle, as he claimed to police. Video evidence also debunked McCallum’s claim that Johnstone sped away from the scene. The surveillance video shows him casually walk into the store where he shopped for more than half an hour. He later called police and went to hospital.

The trial is in recess until Tuesday, due to scheduling of two more expert defence witnesses. It was not scheduled to sit on Friday or Monday.