Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Motorists complained about unsafe practices at site of crash that killed worker

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The second day of the trial of a driver who struck and killed a highway construction flag woman heard that other motorists had complained about the unsafe work practices of the flaggers who worked at the site.

RCMP Const. Wayne Goetz said he had received complaints after the fatal collision from five or six motorists who said the flaggers showed lack of attention, were listening to music and had their backs to traffic.

Goetz was testifying in the trial of Mitchell Blostein, who pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing death for the Oct. 18, 2010 collision that killed Brittany Lynn Murray. Murray was a flag woman for Mulder Construction, which was resurfacing a stretch of Hwy 207 between the Trans-Canada Highway and Hwy 15.

There is no dispute that Blostein, now 70, was driving the car that struck and killed Murray. Justice Douglas Abra must decide if the evidence supports the charge Blostein was driving dangerously.

Crown prosecutor Craig Savage concluded his case today. The defence team of Lisa LaBossiere and Hymie Weinstein said they might call witnesses Thursday morning. Concluding arguments are expected by the end of the day.

Goetz said one of the complaints about the flaggers had come from a police officer in the RM of Springfield. Witnesses testified Tuesday that Murray was still wearing iPod ear buds in her ears after the collision and her iPod was found nearby.

Goetz said when he arrived at the collision scene, Blostein was in the drivers’ seat of his car, screaming and wailing hysterically. Goetz said that Blostein told him that Murray had stepped in front of his car and he never saw her until he hit her.

Blostein said several times that he wanted to die if Murray did not survive, Goetz said, adding he was concerned that Blostein may have been suicidal.

Barry Thomson, the safety co-ordinator with Mulder Construction, said flaggers are prohibited from listening to music or having a hand-held device while working, adding such violations are grounds for immediate dismissal.

Thomson said that flaggers typically receive a half-day of classroom instruction followed by a half-day shadowing an experienced flagger before they are assigned to work alone.

Thomson said an inspector from Workplace Safety and Health visited the collision site the day of the accident but did not make any substantive recommendations for changes.

However, under cross-examination by defence counsel Lisa LaBossiere, Thomson admitted Mulder Construction received an improvement order from Workplace Safety and Health the next day stating that the company lacked written safe-work procedures for the movement of vehicular traffic, and the company was directed to develop the required written procedures.

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