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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Flaggers' safety was questioned

Posted: 06/20/2013 1:00 AM

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

RCMP Const. Wayne Goetz testified Wednesday he had received complaints after the fatal collision from five or six motorists who said the flaggers showed a 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, 21, was a flag woman for Mulder Construction, which was resurfacing a stretch of Highway 207 between the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 15.

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

Crown prosecutor Craig Savage concluded his case Wednesday. 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 with the RM of Springfield police force.

Witnesses testified Tuesday Murray was still wearing iPod earbuds after the collision and her iPod was found nearby.

Goetz said when he arrived at the collision scene, Blostein was in the driver's seat of his car, screaming and wailing hysterically.

Goetz said Blostein told him Murray had stepped in front of his car and he never saw her until he hit her.

Blostein said several times he wanted to die if Murray did not survive, Goetz said, adding he was concerned 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 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.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 20, 2013 B7

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