Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Judge reserves decision on man charged in crash that killed highway flag worker

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The man driving the car that struck and killed a flag woman at a highway construction site failed to take the cautionary steps that a reasonable person would have, his trial heard this afternoon.

Crown prosecutor Craig Savage told Justice Douglas Abra that Mitchell Blostein’s actions that day justify his being found guilty of dangerous driving causing death.

"This is a case of speed and inattentiveness," Savage said during his closing arguments. "If (Blostein) had been paying more attention to his speed and to his surroundings, he would have seen Miss Murray," before his car struck her.

Blostein, 70, pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing death for the Oct. 18, 2010 collision that killed Brittany Lynn Murray.

Murray, 21, was employed as a flag woman for Mulder Construction, which that summer and fall was resurfacing a stretch of Hwy 207 between the Trans-Canada Highway and Hwy 15.

Justice Abra must decide if the evidence supports the charge that Blostein was driving dangerously. Abra reserved his decision, adding he hoped to bring back a verdict on the morning of June 28.

Speed of vehicle in question

Earlier, Blostein testified his family owns a hardware store in Lorette, and that he has travelled that stretch of Hwy 207 for 17 years, six times a week, twice a day, between the store and his home in Dugald.

Savage said that Blostein had testified he drove that stretch of highway daily while it was under construction, adding he should have known to expect a flag person and other workers along the site and was driving too fast for conditions.

Blostein said he believed he was driving the posted speed of 90 km/h when he entered the construction zone but did not reduce his speed to 60 km/h, as warned by signs, because he didn’t see any workers until he hit Murray.

Savage said the report of an RCMP collision re-construction analyst found that, based on the skid marks, Blostein had been travelling at a minimum of 112 km/h just before he applied his brakes and then was doing 89 km/h when he struck and killed Murray.

Defence co-counsel Lisa LaBossiere said Blostein did nothing that day that should turn him into a criminal.

LaBossiere said that while the expert’s report had him travelling at a higher speed, she said that Blostein testified he was doing the posted speed limit and that a driver who was following Blostein said he was doing 80 km/h.

LaBossiere said a sign stated the maximum speed through the area is 60 km/h when workers were present but added that the only worker Blostein saw was Murray, who he said appeared out of nowhere and he was unable to avoid her.

Defence raises workplace safety at site

LaBossiere said that evidence suggested that the flaggers at that site were regularly listening to music through ear buds, were inattentive to traffic and displayed other bad workplace habits.

Witnesses testified Tuesday that Murray was still wearing iPod ear buds in her ears after the collision and her iPod was found nearby.

LaBossiere said it is not unreasonable to believe that Murray had been distracted and darted unexpectedly onto the roadway when she realized a car was coming.

However, Justice Abra questioned the merits of such a scenario.

"Where does that get you," Abra asked LaBossiere. "Contributory negligence is not a defence to dangerous driving."

Abra also had questions for the prosecution’s case, saying there was little evidence to state where other workers were located in reference to the collision scene.

 

Aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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