Globe and Mail

Kaya's stepbrother says fall no accident

Court told he believes baby's mother intentionally dropped her off B.C. bridge

The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, March 7, 2001

VANCOUVER -- Jevin Werbes, a stepbrother of a Down syndrome child who fell over the railing of North Vancouver's Capilano Suspension Bridge, says he believes Nadia Hama intentionally dropped the little girl into the canyon 45 metres below.

Testifying in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday, Mr. Werbes, 23, said he was convinced she was responsible for Kaya falling off the bridge after he saw widely publicized pictures of Ms. Hama moments before the incident.

He said he believes she was holding the 18-month-old girl too high on her shoulder when they were crossing the swaying suspension bridge. As he spoke, Ms. Hama, sitting in the public gallery, scribbled notes that she passed to her lawyer.

"Why did she not hold her low when she was on the bridge . . . I know I would not hold my baby that way," said Mr. Werbes, who has a 13-month-old child.

Mr. Werbes, who lived with Ms. Hama and his father before Kaya was born, also mentioned an incident in which she left Kaya locked in a hot car for 20 minutes. "I put it all together and that's what I feel," he said in response to Ms. Hama's lawyer, Karen Anderson.

Ms. Hama was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder moments after Kaya fell from the bridge on Sept. 22, 1999. Kaya survived with only minor bruises. Police investigated the incident for three months but no charges were ever laid.

Ms. Hama and her former husband, Kjeld Werbes, have gone to court for a ruling on custody of their children -- Kaya, who is now 2, and Jovan, who is 6. The court has also been asked to rule on maintenance payments, distribution of assets and whether Ms. Hama can move with the two children to Toronto.

Last week, Beth Hutchinson, an infant-development consultant, testified that Ms. Hama was carrying Kaya properly when the child fell over the bridge.

Down syndrome babies have low muscle tone and are more floppy, requiring that they be held high, with their head on the shoulder, the court was told.

Outside the courtroom, Jevin Werbes said in a brief interview he understood that Down syndrome babies should be carried high.

But he felt an exception to the rule would be made when a Down syndrome child is being carried across a swaying suspension bridge. He has not spoken with Ms. Hama since the incident, he added.

In court, Mr. Werbes recounted incidents when his father and Ms. Hama would argue over money and other things.

He also recalled events on the day when Kaya fell, offering a different version than police reported.

In a sworn statement, police said that Kjeld Werbes phoned the police just after he had spoken to Ms. Hama and told them she had "thrown Kaya off the Capilano Bridge."

Jevin Werbes said his father's partner answered the phone around 5:15 p.m. His father took the call in a conference room on a speaker phone.

He said Ms. Hama told his father twice that Kaya fell off the bridge. His father asked a third time, did Kaya fall off the bridge? Yes, Jevin said she replied.

They went to the bridge, where Kjeld Werbes went off to speak to the police, he said. Jevin said he was with Jovan. "He told me my sister went over the bridge, but we didn't get into it," he testified.

He also provided an update on how Kaya is now doing. "Kaya is really sharp," he said, adding that she likes to sing songs with her father and talks well.

Earlier, the court heard testimony about Kjeld Werbes and Ms. Hama from cleaning lady Amalia Chi, including when Ms. Hama moved in and out of the house.

She said Ms. Hama read to her various parts of the couple's prenuptial agreement. Also, Ms. Hama was active in the stock market and recommended a stock, based on her husband's involvement with the company. Ms. Chi said she lost $500, but did not consider that to be a significant sum.

Copyright 2001 Globe Interactive, a division of Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc.