'He's gonna kill somebody!' Sideswiped commuter recounts run-in with swerving Saskatoon sanding truck

'He's gonna kill somebody!' Sideswiped commuter recounts run-in with swerving Saskatoon sanding truck

A Saskatchewan commuter who was sideswiped Monday by an erratically-driven City of Saskatoon sanding truck says things could have ended up a lot worse.

"This was a huge disaster waiting to happen," said Sheldon Maerz two days later as he stood in a Regina parking garage showing off a deep gash above his front left tire. 

Maerz lives in Langham but commutes twice a week to his job in Regina — a journey that takes him through Saskatoon.

Monday's commute started like any other, aside from Maerz leaving about 40 minutes later than usual. It took a turn when Maerz became the second civilian to encounter, tail and report the city truck driver to police that morning. 

Video footage posted online 

Another civilian, who has declined to identify himself, posted video of the sander's dangerous driving online. The dashcam footage, taken at 4:20 a.m. CST, ends with that civilian asking Google to call the police.

Flash forward about 40 minutes to Maerz's drive through Saskatoon. He travelled down Idylwyld Drive, then on the Circle Drive North Bridge, where Maerz says he first noticed the one-ton sanding truck in his rear view mirror. 

"I could see him closing very quickly on me," Maerz said, estimating the truck's speed at about 130 kilometres an hour. "Because I saw what I perceived as a threat, I moved to the extreme right-hand lane. That gave him the two lanes away from me.

"I thought everything was gonna be okay. And then the next thing I know I'm being sideswiped."

The truck skidded diagonally down the southbound lanes, Maerz said.

"It looked momentarily like he was gonna lose control and then he pulled it out. I fully expected him to pull over. He started accelerating away."

Kirk Fraser/CBC

Tailing him

Concerned the truck was going to commit a hit-and-run, Maerz called 911 and began following the vehicle as it made its way to downtown Saskatoon.

"I'm yelling at them saying, 'He's gonna kill somebody,' because he almost took out another vehicle."

At one point, the driver stopped his truck in the middle of the road and got out, Maerz said. 

"He was gesturing wildly with his arms as if in a challenge to come up and speak with him."

Maerz opted to stay on the line with police.

Not a 'physical medical issue': police 

Officers eventually caught up to the truck and took the driver into custody, according to a Saskatoon Police Service news release.

Both the City of Saskatoon and the police confirmed the truck was not stolen and that it was being driven by a city employee. 

The driver was taken to hospital for an assessment, but "this was not something caused by a physical medical issue," a police spokesperson confirmed Wednesday. 

The police investigation is ongoing. 

Safety procedures

The City of Saskatoon said it's conducting its own investigation and declined to confirm the driver's employment status with the city. 

"Aside from saying the investigation is ongoing, the city does not discuss internal employee investigations or employee information," a city spokesperson said Wednesday. 

When Maerz realized he was dealing with a City of Saskatoon vehicle, "I was quite annoyed, to put it politely. I couldn't believe it actually."

CBC News asked the city about protocol for workers before they hit the road.

"Generally speaking, in any situation, all  employees are trained and expected to perform their job in a safe and productive manner and must conform to the expectations of the city's operating policies and procedures," the spokesperson said. 

Maerz wondered about procedure too. 

"[In] my own work experience, people just don't show up in a yard and get into a yard and drive away in a vehicle. There's, like, a dispatch," Maerz said. 

"My immediate thoughts were like, 'How did this guy get in possession of a city truck?'"