Disciplinary hearing underway for Sask. engineer who designed bridge that collapsed hours after opening

·2 min read
A section of the newly built Dyck Memorial Bridge over the Swan River in the RM of Clayton collapsed on Sept. 14, 2018, hours after the bridge was opened to the public. (Photo submitted by Duane Hicks - image credit)
A section of the newly built Dyck Memorial Bridge over the Swan River in the RM of Clayton collapsed on Sept. 14, 2018, hours after the bridge was opened to the public. (Photo submitted by Duane Hicks - image credit)

A disciplinary hearing for Regina engineer Scott Gullacher, who designed a bridge in rural Saskatchewan that collapsed hours after it opened in 2018, began Monday.

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS) alleges Gullacher broke rules when he designed the bridge.

A three-person panel will hear evidence regarding formal complaints that Gullacher was in contravention of The Engineering and Geosciences Professions Regulatory Bylaws, 1997.

Four of the complaints pertain to Gullacher's involvement in the design and construction of the Dyck Memorial Bridge, which collapsed hours after being opened, in the Rural Municipality (RM) of Clayton.

A fifth complaint alleges Gullacher contravened the bylaws in the overall design of five municipal bridges in four other RMs in the province.

On Monday morning, Gullacher was asked if he would be pleading guilty or not guilty to the complaints against him. Gullacher's lawyer Peter Bergbusch said his client would be pleading "no contest."

After a brief recess, the three-person panel said Gullacher's "no contest" amounted to a not-guilty plea and the hearing would proceed.

Dyck Bridge collapse

On Sept. 14, 2018, the Rural Municipality (RM) of Clayton announced on its Facebook page that "the Dyck Memorial Bridge is now complete and open."

Later that same day, the bridge collapsed. No one was injured.

The association alleges Gullacher failed to practise "in a careful and diligent manner" when he designed the bridge and the screw piles that were supposed to hold it up. APEGS also claims Gullacher was offering services or advice in an area outside of his professional competence.

Kirk Fraser/CBC
Kirk Fraser/CBC

The association also alleges he failed to be "careful and diligent" in his design of bridges in four other Saskatchewan RMs: Scott, Caledonia, Perdue and Mervin. In 2019, the province of Saskatchewan's Ministry of Highways put weight restrictions on the bridges after a review by a consultant.

Potential penalties

If the three-person panel finds that Gullacher committed professional misconduct or professional incompetence, he could face a variety of consequences.

He could be expelled or suspended from APEGS, or suspended or restricted from working under certain conditions.

The panel could also levy a $15,000 fine.

The hearing adjourned Monday afternoon and will resume Tuesday at 2 p.m. CST. It is scheduled to last until Friday.

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