Pedestrians hit by U-Haul van in Edmonton testify at trial of alleged attacker

EDMONTON — Paul Biegel was about to light a cigarette moments before he found himself lying on the ground with a broken vehicle mirror beside him.

Biegel was in an alley outside a downtown Edmonton pub with a friend when he was hit from behind by a speeding U-Haul van, he told a jury Wednesday at the trial of Abdulahi Hasan Sharif.

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Sharif, 32, has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges, including five counts of attempted murder, in relation to the Sept. 30, 2017, attack.

He is accused of first running down and stabbing a police officer who was on traffic duty outside an Edmonton Eskimos football game before striking four pedestrians with a cube van a few hours later.

Biegel told court that after being hit, he fell over a concrete barrier and landed on his stomach. He then looked up to see the van continue down the lane with police cruisers in pursuit. It hit another man.

"I had seen him there with other people and the van had gone over where he was standing," Biegel said. "After the van had passed, I had seen him lying down.

"It looked like a police chase you would see on TV."

Jack Zubick told court that he was outside the same bar, The Pint, when he was hit.

But he remembers little of what happened.

"I have brief memory of maybe turning towards lights. But for the most part I'm not a 100 per cent sure if that's something I maybe think I saw," Zubick said.

"I have brief memory of maybe the inside of an ambulance ... and then just coming to in the hospital with my mom and my girlfriend there."

Zubick said he remembers waking up later in hospital on a spine board wearing a cervical collar.

"I was in quite a bit of pain. I know at one point they gave me morphine."

Zubick said he suffered a head and knee injury. He was released from hospital the next evening feeling stiff and sore with a bad headache.

He received treatment for his knee for about four months, he said, and had headaches for about a year.

Zubick, a student, also said he had to take a reduced class schedule and was unable to work for a month and a half. He noticed that he became more impulsive and irritable, and felt more stress and anxiety than usual.

Beigel said he had to use crutches for about three months for his knee injury.

"I wasn't able to play hockey and I was lucky to be able to go back to work on modified duties," said Biegel, who works as a gas plant operator.

He said the psychological effects were the hardest part of his recovery, and he saw a counsellor for depression and anxiety.

"I kind of went into an anti-social nature there for a while, that's not really myself," he said.

"I still have anxiety, something I didn't feel like I had before."

Sharif, who is not represented by a lawyer, has declined to ask questions of any witnesses during the trial, which is expected to last until early November.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 9, 2019.

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