One blow to the head was enough to kill a Chestermere teenager who entered into a deadly fight with a fellow high school student last spring.
The 16-year-old boy was killed May 25, 2001, after he was knocked to the ground and punched several times by the accused, who is on trial charged with manslaughter in a Strathmore courtroom this week.
The victim and the accused cannot be named under the Young Offenders Act. “I would suspect the fatal injury occurred with the first blow being struck,” Calgary medical examiner Dr. Lloyd Denmark testified at the trial Wednesday.
Denmark said a major artery leading from the neck to the head was torn as a result of the blow, which landed near the victim’s temple, causing blood to build up around the base of the brain.
“It isn’t a common injury, but it is one I’ve seen a dozen or so times in my career,” Denmark said. “Unfortunately, death is almost universal.”
Denmark said the fatal injury is usually found in people who have been hit after consuming large quantities of alcohol — which the victim had not — and are therefore relatively relaxed and unresponsive.
“The neck’s not braced to receive the blow,” he told the court. “We have an individual who is standing and is not intoxicated . . . (the injury) is exceptional in the sense that it doesn’t fit into the normal scenario.
“I would speculate . . . the individual was rather relaxed.”
But Denmark said it was likely the way the head moved — the “up and back and twist” motions of the head after it received the blow — and not necessarily the force behind it that was the fatal factor.
“I suppose, if you saw the blow coming, it would give you time to tense up, but if it’s coming fairly rapidly you may not have time.”
About 75 students went to James Peake Park in Chestermere last May to watch the prearranged fight, which was reportedly over a girl.
The accused allegedly charged the victim and struck him in the head. The victim dropped to the ground before being dealt three or four further jabs. The entire fight took no more than 10 seconds, said witnesses.
Friends of the victim’s rushed to his aid and called emergency crews, who arrived on the scene four minutes later.
Brent Paquette of the Chestermere Fire Department was one of the first on scene and attempted to resuscitate the unconscious teen until ambulance crews arrived.
“I heard him breathe and saw his chest rise and fall three times before he ceased breathing,” Paquette told the court Wednesday.
Shortly after, Wendy Wood, a paramedic with Calgary Emergency Medical Services, arrived with her partner.
Wood said the victim had a weak pulse when they arrived, but despite their best efforts it was lost en route to Calgary’s Foothills Hospital.
“The injury was just too serious. We couldn’t combat it,” Wood said.
Defence lawyer Pat Fagan will present his case today.