Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Semi driver charged after fatal crash near Headingley

Area residents have long said Trans-Canada stretch unsafe

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A memorial has been set up near Headingley for Derek Bossuyt who was killed when a semi crossed into his lane Monday night.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A memorial has been set up near Headingley for Derek Bossuyt who was killed when a semi crossed into his lane Monday night. Photo Store

The Edmonton man charged with dangerous driving causing death in the Monday night fatal collision on the Trans-Canada Highway in Headingley remains in custody.

Randolf Enns, 33, was scheduled to appear in court this morning but that was rescheduled to Thursday morning.

Enns is also charged with resisting a police officer.

Enns was taken into custody after the westbound semi-trailer he was driving crossed the centre line and struck a pick-up, killing the 21-year-old driver, Derek Bossuyt, of Winnipeg.

Bossuyt had just left the John Blumberg Softball Complex at about 9:30 p.m. when the collision occurred.

The semi-trailer is owned by Advance Trucking, of Fort McMurray, Alta.

Advance owner Sikander Brar told the Free Press that Enns had left Fargo early Monday morning and dropped a load in Winnipeg. Enns was to have then picked up a load in Steinbach for Edmonton, however Brar said Enns never went to Steinbach and he lost contact with him.

Tragedy renews safety concerns

The notorious stretch of highway is once again in the spotlight -- and for tragic reasons.

The Trans-Canada Highway west of the Perimeter Highway, through Headingley to the weigh station that serves as a final point of reference before the Prairie sky meets the horizon, has long been considered a treacherous chunk of real estate for Manitoba drivers.

The roadway found its way into the news again Monday night when Bossuyt was killed near the K. Bosch & Sons Greenhouse and the Motel 6. The victim was the lone occupant of the pickup truck.

'We (drivers) always talk about this stretch and it's an issue' -- long-haul driver Jacob Hengstmengel

His family has asked media for privacy and is not commenting at this time.

 

The stretch of highway is not divided by a barrier wall or boulevard. It's a situation that's begging for more accidents and fatalities the longer it goes without being addressed, say those who drive the stretch regularly.

"It's just way too busy, so I'm not surprised there was an accident," said Jacob Hengstmengel, a long-haul driver with 17 years of experience. The 37-year-old from Lethbridge, Alta., transports cargo between Winnipeg and Alberta and says the uneasiness isn't just in his cab.

Truckers talk, and they don't have anything nice to say about the seven-kilometre run.

"We (drivers) always talk about this stretch and it's an issue," Hengstmengel said outside the Flying J truck stop. "We're relatively safe in our big trucks; other drivers in smaller cars are really at risk.

"I'm surprised they (serious accidents) don't happen more out here."

"Very dangerous," said another driver, who didn't want his name used for fear he'll get in trouble with his company. "To have four lanes like this, side by side, with this amount of traffic is just asking for trouble."

Those words match the feelings of Headingley Mayor Wilf Taillieu.

Pointing to daily traffic volume numbers that range from 18,000 to 20,000 vehicles a day, Taillieu said his municipality has been trying to get the provincial government to invest in the area for nearly 20 years. With the potential for an even busier roadway once the nearby CentrePort is completed, his worry is growing.

"We've tried to get the province to divide the highway with a centre median and provide service roads and access to business, which would have prevented some of these accidents over the years," Taillieu said Tuesday. "It's been very tough getting money out of the province to get this highway finished."

A provincial official said the government recognizes the perils of the stretch of Trans-Canada Highway west of the Perimeter.

During the past several years, the federal and provincial governments have financed safety improvements along the busy road, but a few sections remain unfinished, including the scene of Monday's crash.

Lance Vigfusson, assistant deputy minister of engineering and operations with Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, said in the past there were far too many access points to the Trans-Canada in the Headingley area.

The plan is to have all local traffic enter the highway from access roads leading to controlled intersections. Barriers are also being erected to divide the highway as improvements are made.

The next phase of the project is the section between the John Blumberg golf course and the Husky/Coverall intersection. "That work has been tendered and awarded and work will start later this summer," Vigfusson said Tuesday. "It will be a two-year project that will see that location divided."

The stretch in which the crash occurred will also be upgraded, but that project will have to await implementation of a new Canada-Manitoba infrastructure deal.

"It's in our plans. And we certainly will be looking to advance that project for cost-sharing with the feds when they develop the details of the new (infrastructure) programs," Vigfusson said.

The semi-trailer involved in Monday's crash is owned by Advance Trucking, based out of Fort McMurray, Alta.

Speaking by phone Tuesday morning, company owner Sikander Brar said he was very upset and "could not sleep all night" after he learned of the crash overnight.

"I’m very sad… someone lost a life. A mother lost her son," he said.

Brar said the driver has only been with Advance Trucking for two weeks. He said all prospective employees must pass drug and alcohol testing before being hired.

The company had posted four straight years without a collision prior to Monday’s crash, he said.

Advance has four trucks on the road, crossing the country and dipping into the United States, Brar said.

On Monday, the driver left Fargo early in the morning and arrived in Winnipeg by 8 a.m. with a load to drop off. He had another load to pick up in Steinbach and was to drive to Edmonton "on his own schedule."

Brar said the driver dropped the first load in Winnipeg but also left the trailer there. Brar said the driver was supposed to return for the trailer but never came back.

"I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why he had his cellphone off," he said. "He is driving independent. We don't have a supervisor. We only talk to him by phone."

 

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca

-- with files from Larry Kusch and Jason Bell

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 24, 2013 B1

History

Updated on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 6:49 AM CDT: replaces photo

7:13 AM: Adds quotes from trucking company owner.

8:40 AM: Adds semi driver charged.

8:49 AM: Adds photo.

4:12 PM: Court date rescheduled.

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