The coroner’s inquest into the death of Brennan Ahenakew-Johnstone heard about the final hours of his life on Wednesday.
Dayza Merasty, who was 16-years-old at the time, told the inquest she had invited Ahenakew-Johnstone to a house gathering where drugs and alcohol were being consumed in May 2018.
She said she had known the 20-year-old man casually in the six months prior to his death and the two had been communicating via Facebook Messenger in the late evening and early morning hours of May 10, 2018.
Merasty told the inquest Ahenakew-Johnstone was “noticeably intoxicated” when she went to bed around 3:30 a.m.
Diamond Sasakamoose, who was 17 at the time, testified he and Ahenakew-Johnstone were the only ones still awake when they decided to fight for “fun” around 4 a.m.
He said the fight got out of hand and he beat up Ahenakew-Johnstone stomping on his body area a few times.
Sasakamoose said the altercation ended when he picked up a knife and told Ahenakew-Johnstone to leave his home, which he did.
He said the last time he saw of Ahenakew-Johnstone was him getting into his car and driving away around 5 a.m.
Sasakamoose reiterated a few times that he immediately dropped the knife after threatening Ahenakew-Johnstone with it.
“I am not the type of person to stab someone or do serious injuries,” he said.
He said he sustained some bruising from the fight and was bleeding from the month while Ahenakew-Johnstone was bleeding from his nose.
Sasakamoose testified the last words he heard Ahenakew-Johnstone say before getting into his vehicle were, “I am going to hurt myself.”
“I told him, ‘don’t be stupid, go home,’” he said.
However, after listening to an audio statement he gave to police on May 10, 2018, he then changed his testimony of Ahenakew-Johnstone’s final words to, “I am going to burn myself.”
The statement Saskakamoose gave to police on that day was given after he had already learned Ahenakew-Johnstone had died in a vehicle fire.
The inquest also heard earlier in the day that the vehicle fire that Ahenakew-Johnstone died in likely started in the engine compartment of his 2002 Pontiac Grand Am.
Jeff Keyes, who was a vehicle inspector for Saskatchewan Government Insurance at the time, told the jury parts of the oil pan were missing which could have been caused when Ahenakew-Johnstone went over a rock after he went off the road.
The loss of oil combined with the heat produced from the metal-on-metal friction and the fact the car was still in gear was what likely caused the fire, Keyes said.
“The fire was accidental in origin and originated in the transaxle,” he said. “The surrounding organic material would not be enough to generate this type of heat.”
When asked if he had ever seen an intentional fire started in this manner, Keyes said no.
“Intentional fires usually start in the passenger compartment,” he said. “I did not find anything in the vehicle that was an anomaly,” he added.
Cpl. Bob Topping was the RCMP accident re-constructionist who examined the scene.
He told the inquest the car travelled about 273 metres off the road, dislodging a rock and hitting a barbed wire fence before coming to rest in a pasture.
Topping said the tire tracks were generally straight indicating the driver did not lose control of the vehicle.
He also said there was nothing from his inspection that would indicate the driver sustained any serious injuries as a result of the collision itself.
Topping told the inquest he examined the car itself for about half-an-hour to an hour but did not look inside the vehicle.
When asked why this was the case he said it was because “it is not part of my job.”
The coroner’s inquest continues on this week in Prince Albert.
(PHOTO: Brennan Ahenakew-Johnstone. Photo courtesy LJ Ahenakew Facebook page.)