Witness reports of woman’s death vary

Manslaughter trial of Christopher Groves looks at how Ariana Simpson died under a bus in 2009

The question surrounding the death of a 20-year-old woman who was crushed under a bus is whether she was pushed or if she fell.

Ariana Simpson died on Pandora Avenue just after 11 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2009. Christopher Groves is charged with manslaughter.

His B.C. Supreme Court trial before a jury of five women and seven men, as well as Justice Barbara Fisher, began Sept. 13.

The court heard Groves and a friend, George Westwood, were celebrating Westwood’s completion of his carpentry exams. They went to Pandora Avenue to buy cocaine, said Crown prosecutor Kimberly Henders Miller, when a dispute broke out with a group of people from the street community.

Simpson ended up under a B.C. Transit bus and died instantly.

Westwood was arrested at the time in connection with the incident, but was later released without charges.

On Sept. 13, Westwood testified he had been drinking downtown and remembered just a few snapshots of that evening. He told the court someone threw an object at Groves – a straw, thrown by Simpson – then Groves tried to push his way out of the crowd.

Groves ended up out front of Victoria Police Department in the fetal position, Const. Robert Iles said on the second day of the trial. Groves’ ribs were sore and had several cuts to his face and head.

When Iles arrested Groves, Groves said, “OK, I didn’t do anything though. I’m a good kid … Some … crackhead tried to attack my friend, some … junkie.”

The jury heard from witnesses from the street community, as well as from people who were on the bus that night. Transit rider Roberta Johnson described seeing Westwood shove Simpson as the bus approached, while Brandy Jury, who was addicted to heroin when the incident happened, was somewhat sure Groves pushed Simpson.

Guy Grolway said Simpson was reaching down to pick up a straw she threw at Groves when Groves pushed her hard. Grolway also said he might have been smoking crack that day.

The trial continues this week.