Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Man suspected in drunk-driving crash flown back to Manitoba

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A man suspected of killing his friend in a drunk-driving crash with a moving train has been flown back to Manitoba after being picked up by RCMP in British Columbia.

Christopher Shane Watt, 37, was flown to Manitoba last week and is in custody in Winnipeg pending trial on charges including criminal negligence causing the death of Marko Kordic on July 8, 2012. 

Kordic, 36, died after being thrown from a Ford F-350 truck when it collided with a moving CN Rail freight train on Edgewood Road just south of Highway 15. A woman, 47, was also injured but is believed to have been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. 

A resident living by the train tracks previously told the Free Press he saw vehicle lights driving quickly towards the tracks as a train approached. "I saw headlights and then I saw the train lights. And then I saw the headlights not stopping and I heard the whistle blowing and the lights weren’t stopping," said Barry Sigurdson. 

Sigurdson said the impact between the train and the truck must have been intense. "I saw headlights flipping above the train," he said. "It was chaos."

A legal source told the Free Press Tuesday RCMP believe the three in the truck had been at a house party just prior to the crash and that Watt was in the driver’s seat.

Cameras on the train play a big role in the criminal investigation, the source said. He was unauthorized to speak publicly about the case.

Watt himself was thrown from the truck and spent time in hospital afterwards.

RCMP have only said they suspect alcohol was a factor in the collision. 

Oakbank RCMP obtained a Manitoba-only arrest warrant for Watt in March 2013. This came months after they initiated charges of impaired driving causing death and driving over the legal limit of .08 causing a fatal accident. 

But the warrant remained unexecuted until police were notified by colleagues in Langley, B.C. that Watt had been picked up in a traffic stop, ultimately leading to his arrest March 14 after Manitoba Mounties applied to have the radius of the warrant extended.

He was processed and flown to Manitoba under B.C.’s so-called "con air" program, which justice officials and police set up in an effort to reduce the number of wanted suspects coming to that province to avoid apprehension elsewhere.

Managed by the RCMP, the initiative has seen 59 people returned to the Canadian jurisdiction in which they’re wanted since September 2011, RCMP said in announcing Watt’s arrest. 

Five of them were from Manitoba, RCMP Cpl. Trish Robinson said Tuesday. Robinson is the co-ordinator of the Provincial Fugitive Return program.

Watt also faces an unrelated charge of fraud over $5,000 for allegedly bilking Manitoba Employment and Income Assistance between the start of 2011 and June 1, 2012.

Watt remains in custody. Court records indicate the Crown is opposed to his release on bail. 

Kordic was a well-liked man who worked in the field of information technology. He loved camping and travelling, according to his obituary.

"Marko was the kindest person, a gentle soul and had a good sense of humour. He will be greatly missed," the obituary states.

His death notice in the Free Press prompted dozens of friends, relatives and others to publicly mourn his loss.

"Marko was one of the kindest people I have ever met," work colleague Cheryl Chuckry wrote. "Even in the face of anger, conflict or frustration, he would always remain calm and patient — a real challenge when working in IT," she said. 

"He had such a gentle nature and a friendly smile that I’ll never forget. I will miss him greatly," wrote Chuckry.

 

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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