Morgan Pardy stretched her left arm out before her and grabbed an imaginary steering wheel in a St. John's courtroom Wednesday, using her right to hold an invisible gearshift.
With her right elbow, she used the arm rest of her wheelchair to demonstrate how she says Joshua Steele-Young had been angrily smacking his arm against the centre console of his Honda Civic while driving in the minutes before the highway crash that left her paralyzed.
Switching to a loud, stern tone of voice, Pardy spoke the way she said she had spoken to Steele-Young in the car at that moment.
"Josh, can you stop? Can you slow down?" Pardy told the court. "That's what I said. It was a loud voice, very direct."
She demonstrated how she used her elbow to push back against Steele-Young's arm, in an effort to get him to stop hitting the console.
The 23-year-old said Steele-Young had responded by raising his elbow in her direction and sneering at her. She began to cry on the witness stand as she described him calling her a slut and telling her to get away from him.
"It was such a disgusting look, like I was a piece of garbage sitting in his front seat," Pardy said. She said she then undid her seatbelt and moved to the far corner of her seat.
"I was crying. I was screaming, ‘Let me out of the f---ing car!’" Pardy said. "It felt like five seconds later I woke up in the ICYU.
"I gave him my heart and got in that f---ing car so he could talk to me and wouldn't kill himself."
Pardy testified she had ended her five-month relationship with Steele-Young, but had agreed to go for a drive with him a few days later, on March 20, 2017, to talk. She said Steele-Young had been threatening suicide and she was trying to placate him.
They began bickering in the vehicle, she said, and the argument grew louder and more heated as they approached Pitts Memorial Drive, with Steele-Young driving faster and faster. At one point, she threatened to call the police if he didn't slow down. She testified that he gave her his cellphone and asked her, "What are they going to do?"
When she demanded to be let out of the car, Pardy said, Steele-Young told her, "Oh you want me to pull over? I don't f---ing think so. You can wait until we're in C.B.S. and you can get a ride home then."
Steele-Young, 23, has pleaded not guilty to charges of forcible confinement and dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection with the highway crash, which saw Pardy ejected from the Civic as it rolled a number of times and left her with a broken segment of her spine, several broken ribs and a punctured lung. She spent the better part of a year in hospital and is now paralyzed from the chest down.
"Did he ever slow down to let you out?" Crown prosecutor Jennifer Lundrigan asked Pardy.
"No, because I wouldn't be here (in court)," Pardy responded.
On cross-examination, defence lawyer Randy Piercey questioned Pardy about whether or not she had purposely tried to get under Steele-Young's skin during the argument in the car, and whether or not she could have caused the crash by pushing Steele-Young's arm off the console, leading him to lose control of the vehicle.
"He's a big guy," Pardy responded. "There's no way I could push him enough to cause an accident."
Piercey also presented Pardy with screen shots of text messages she had sent to Steele-Young from hospital, apologizing. Text messages Pardy had sent to a mutual friend, talking about wanting to give Steele-Young "the apology he deserves" were also presented.
"I thought I had hurt him," Pardy said, crying. "(The accident) was just like a quick second and everything just changed, and I never got to say anything to him. I thought I had hurt him and I said sorry, and I hated myself. I had no f---ing answers and I wanted to die, so yeah, I wrote that. I thought I had done something wrong for him not to message me or see me. I was in ICU wondering why he didn't give a f---."
Steele-Young's trial will continue before Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Justice Frances Knickle today.