As a Kelowna newspaper carrier slowly recovers in hospital, the man charged with running him down while speeding away from police is out on bail.
Nathan Daniel Fahl was released from custody Thursday after a bail hearing cast doubt on whether he was driving the car that struck Steve Kania as he delivered papers in Rutland a month ago.
The man who initially told police he was a passenger in the car is now saying he was behind the wheel. Donald Brodie has signed a letter admitting he was the driver and told police he's responsible for the crash, court heard Thursday.
For Fahl, who spent five weeks in custody, the about-face gives him a get-out-of-jail card. Judge Ellen Burdett said the trial judge may find there's reasonable doubt that Fahl is guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
"The case is circumstantial and the Crown will be challenged if Mr. Brodie testifies and his admission of guilt is accepted by the trial judge."
Police believe Fahl took off from a road check on Springfield Road at 12:30 a.m. Dec. 6 and led officers on a chase through Rutland. A Mountie used his patrol car to block the Eagle Talon at Dundas and Dundee roads.
The Talon swerved around the vehicle, went up a curb, crossed a grassy area and slammed head-on into Kania, 41, where he stood. He flew up over the hood and smashed into the windshield as the car broke a fire hydrant, court heard.
Water was splashing on him as he lay unconscious on the ground. The officer pulled Kania away from the pooling water without seeing who was driving. Kania had trouble breathing and a slight pulse.
Fahl, 24, and Brodie were standing outside the Talon when other officers arrived. Fahl denied he was driving and said he was stoned on the drug GHB in the back seat.
Brodie told police he was in the passenger seat and wanted to jump out during the chase but couldn't open the door, said Crown counsel David Grabavac.
Lisa Carlisle, seen riding in the back seat, told police that Fahl and Brodie were strangers and she couldn't say who was driving. Police later learned she's Facebook friends with both men.
Kania was in a coma for more than a week. He suffered bleeding on the brain, an injured lung, a broken leg and fractures to his thoracic vertebrae. He was flown to Vancouver and later returned to Kelowna General Hospital.
He remains in intensive care there and still has memory issues, said Grabavac.
Brodie, 34, gave a long statement to police and denied numerous times he was driving. He said Kania's head smashed through the windshield "almost in my lap." Damage to the windshield was on the passenger side, said Grabavac.
A woman driving on Baron Road told police she saw the Talon driver as she swerved her car to avoid getting hit. He had short dirty-blond hair, she said - similar to Fahl's. Brodie had a shaved head.
Dylan Sams had been at a small party on Graham Road with both men. He was driving behind the Talon when they stopped at the road check. He returned to the house and told everyone "Nate blew a check stop," Grabavac said.
Sams refused to talk to police the next day. On Thursday, he testified Brodie was driving and denied telling others that Fahl drove away from police. He admitted he once gave police a false name but denied he was lying to help his friend.
Brodie told Global TV weeks after the crash that another man was driving the Talon, not Fahl. He said police were shooting at them and he was trying to convince the real driver to fess up.
Later, Brodie admitted he lied in the TV interview. He took full responsibility in a letter delivered to police by Fahl's sister.
Fahl and Brodie have long criminal records. Fahl has 36 convictions, including two for dangerous driving. He was jailed for 16 months in 2012 and prohibited from driving for five years.
Michael Newcombe, defending, said Brodie's credibility is suspect but no one can prove Fahl was at the wheel.
"This is such a weak case. There's not enough evidence to come close to convicting him," Newcombe said. "If the Crown proceeds, (Brodie) would be an unindicted co-accused."
The judge released Fahl on $5,000 bail without a bond or deposit. He must live at a friend's house around the clock unless he's at work as an orchard labourer. He's banned from driving, drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs.
He next appears in court Feb. 6.