In honour of National Day of Mourning, the Herald spoke to Carmen Hahn, who lost her husband, Jason, three years ago in a work-related incident.
Jason Hahn was born and raised in Hope, where he met Carmen in 1991. The couple were married in 1996, and welcomed two children before relocating to Merritt in 2007.
From the time he was young, Jason’s dream was to spend his life behind the steering wheel.
“His dad was a logging truck driver; his grandpa was a logging truck driver,” explained Carmen. “It was his passion from the time he was a toddler. He was always out in the truck with his dad, driving up and down the roads.”
Jason started out as a pizza delivery driver, and then moved into more heavy truck work by becoming a tow truck driver. Jason knew that he wanted to pursue a career as a professional driver, and set out to make his dream a reality while he was still a teenager.
“As soon as he was 19, on the day he turned 19, he went to Valley Driving School and got his Class One,” said Carmen.
After he qualified for his Class One license, Jason went to work hauling all manner of goods. From logs, chips and waste to super B’s of freight, criss-crossing the western provinces many times over, putting in long hours and gaining experience.
Jason eventually became an owner operator, owning three trucks and hiring other drivers to keep them on the road.
“He never completely fulfilled his dream; he would have been happy with a 10-truck fleet,” Carmen said, although she joked that that would have been a real headache.
“It was at three, in my eyes! But it wasn’t my passion.”
Jason took a job hauling logs north of Fort St. James early in 2018. On March 7, police discovered that his truck, which was loaded at the time, had gone off the road and plunged down a 15-foot embankment.
It was suspected that the Jeep, a type of trailer Jason was using, had malfunctioned and caused the truck to go over the bank. The crash then caused the load to shift, with the logs moving forward into the cab.
Jason was pronounced deceased at the scene.
“He loved trucking, he loved to work,” his wife said, reflecting on the accident which claimed Jason’s life.
“And he was good at it, He would have spent his whole life, right until later if he could have. We always joked that he would go driving, just not at 44 years old.”
Now, Carmen has adjusted, as much as a person can, to being widowed at such a young age, but she will never stop missing Jason.
“He was gone so much driving all the time that I pretty much ran the household myself,” she said, but notes she is often struck by the little things that Jason used to do that she now has to do herself.
“The ‘blue jobs’ are now ‘purple jobs’, I’ve had to kind of meld them together.”
Also missing are the many outings they made with their son and daughter, camping with friends and family.
“He loved camping, anything to do with playing in the mud, on the quad or on the RZR, the muddier the better,” Carmen reminisces.
Although it may not be possible to eliminate workplace accidents entirely, Carmen hopes that people will use the Day of Mourning to reflect on how easily someone can be lost, and to ensure that they are aware and taking every step to remain as safe as possible while on the job. If it’s possible, by remembering Jason, to prevent even one more accident claiming another life, Carmen would consider it a success.
“I don’t wish this on anyone.”
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald