German family recalls shooting on Alberta highway
The crashed car of 60-year-old Horst Stewin who was shot in the left side of the head by someone in a passing car is shown in this undated court handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Alberta Courts)
CALGARY -- The wife of a German tourist who was shot in the head while driving on an Alberta highway told police she remembers hearing a pop and then smelling the strong odour of gunpowder before her husband drove off the road.
The trial of an Alberta youth accused of firing the gun had to rely mainly on police interviews Wednesday that were done with Horst Stewin's family after he was shot in the head.
Stewin's relatives were set to testify by video from Detmold, Germany, but a court interpreter said she was unable to proceed.
"I can't do this," she said.
The victim's wife, Ulrike Stewin, told police through an interpreter last August that the family was driving along a highway through the land of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation because her husband rides horses and was a fan of the western lifestyle.
"She didn't notice the vehicle until they started overtaking and then he rolled down the window and they started shooting at them. The passenger was shooting out the window," said the interpreter.
"She even smelled the smoke from the gun. She could hear the pop ... She could see the guy. Her husband just fell forward onto the steering wheel and she said, 'Oh my God. I can't believe this is happening."
The wife described the shooter as Caucasian and wearing a baseball cap. She identified the other car as black instead of the red one the suspect was riding in, but said she was "focused on the gun in the hand."
Horst Stewin survived, but suffered debilitating injuries.
The teen, who cannot be identified because he was 16 at the time, is on trial for charges that include aggravated assault.
Daniel Stewin told police he was sitting in the front passenger seat and didn't realize his father had been shot.
"A car was overtaking, going very fast. Then there was that noise. At first I thought it was the wheels exploding. Then I saw my dad with his head down," he said.
"I didn't even know he'd been shot. I thought it was a heart attack or something. I thought why the hell are we going away from the street? I looked at my dad.
"I saw no reaction and I saw the blood and I thought, 'Oh my God. I've got to do something."
The Stewins' black SUV veered off the highway and crashed into some trees. Police and emergency crews showed up and Horst Stewin was taken to hospital.
His son said in his police interview that he still remembers the smell in the SUV after the shooting.
"It's the smell of gunpowder. It was already in the car before the airbags got off. I still have this smell in my nose and it's everywhere."
Stewin was transported back to Germany where eight bullet fragments were removed from his brain. He is paralyzed on his right side, gets confused and has memory issues.