The driver of a commercial vehicle involved in a now-infamous incident on Highway 5 between Barrriere and Clearwater in March is no longer employed by the company he drove for, and has left the country.
At the end of March, along a busy section of Highway 5, a commercial transport carrier was caught on dashcam footage making an illegal pass over a double solid line on this notorious stretch of highway in the North Thompson.
Following a lengthy investigation, police searching for the offending driver were led to an Edmonton address, and enlisted the involvement of the Edmonton Police Service, only to find that the driver is no longer in Canada.
In an interview with Black Press, Kamloops BC Highway Patrol (BCHP) S/Sgt. Bryan Fedirchuk said “We sent the request to Edmonton Police Service after we did our part of the investigation and sent the ticket off for service.
“Under the Motor Vehicle Act and the criminal code, offences have a term or period when — after that date expires — you can no longer forward charges. From the date of the offence we have up to one year to lay the charge. You can lay a charge by issuing a violation ticket or by what we call a long form, which is information that is sworn in court.”
Fedirchuk said that BCHP can involve other agencies or detachments in serving tickets in other provinces. Once they have been served, the person must then return to the province in which the offence occurred for the matter to be heard in court.
Both the carrier company — Kakrala Transport Ltd., which was contracted to haul the trailer seen in the video — and Manitoulin, the company that owns the trailer, cooperated with police.
In an exclusive interview with Jujhar Gauman, the owner of Kakrala Transport, Black Press learned that the driver was immediately fired from the carrier when the dashcam footage became public.
“As soon as I saw that video, I told the guy he was fired,” said Gauman. “But Manitoulin stopped working with my company after that. I worked for them for a few years, but after that happened my trucks, six of them, sat in the yard with no work because of that guy. I think he went back to Italy or India, I’m not sure.
“I have 11 trucks, but now, for three months, no work, my trucks just sitting in the yard. It’s not the company’s problem, it is the driver’s problem. The driver is the one who did this. That is not an owner mistake. They can charge the driver. Manitoulin saw that video on Facebook and they fired my company. I was doing a good job for them, they were paying good money. We just last week started with another company after no work April, May and June. I want to tell the news and the police, charge the driver.”
When asked how many years’ experience a driver must have to work for his company, Gauman said “Some companies say two years, but they must have one year.”
The video clearly shows a small white passenger car forced to straddle the shoulder in between a lowbed driven by local driver Bruce Martens, whose dashcam captured the double-solid-line pass, and a logging truck driven by John Keating, who said later “I knew I had to get going a hell of a lot faster, and the lowbed had to slow down, to create room for him to fit before he met the oncoming traffic, or there would have been another fatal accident.”
Both Keating and Martens later confronted the driver at a pull-out and passed on the information in a report to BCHP officers, who then took charge of the investigation.
Talking to Black Press on July 27, Keating said he was reassured by the presence of more Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) and highway patrol vehicles on that highway.
“Talking with local highway patrol and CVSE, there’s just not enough manpower out there. There could be multiple CVSE travelling that road, but how often will they be at the spot where one of these illegal passes happens? The only reason that guy got caught months ago was because of the dashcam footage.”
Keating recently stopped at the pullout near McLure and introduced himself to the CVSE officer there. “The officer said he didn’t need me to stop but I explained that I wanted to thank them for doing an excellent job, and said that as a driver I think it really does help having more enforcement on the road.”
Keating, a logging truck driver, said he now plans his trips even earlier during lower traffic periods, but even during night drives he still encounters risks.
“I was recently starting my shift at 12:45 a.m. and was first on the scene of an accident near Little Fort with an improperly secured load of marble. I had to call 9-1-1, and was held up there for two hours dealing with that. Just inferior load securement, straps that I wouldn’t even tie down anything with, and he was tying down an expensive load of marble like that.
“Why are companies taking the cheapest, lowest bidder to move their product to Edmonton from the Lower Mainland? Seems like the cheapest carriers get the job with no thought given to safety.”
Mayor Merlin Blackwell of Clearwater has commented on the follow-up to the double-solid illegal pass in March and pending charges.
“I’m pleased that the authorities have got as far as they possibly can with this investigation, and also impressed that the trucking company dealt with it very swiftly after seeing the incident footage. But this is still the tip of the iceberg regarding safety issues that must happen as far as looking into improved driver training. Who exactly, and with what level of experience, are we putting on our roads? The whole driver training system needs to be modernized.”
BCHP does not know the whereabouts of the driver in question except that he has left Canada, but stress that pending charges remain in place at this time and will be enforced should he return to the country.