No charges in tow truck driver death, investigation ongoing: RCMP

Heart attack patient stranded on highway for 90 minutes after ambulance crashed into snowbank

No charges have been laid after the death of a Saskatchewan tow truck driver, who was hit and killed on Highway 22 during last week's blizzard. 

The death has renewed calls for better protections to prevent driver fatalities.

The man was killed when he was hit by a semi-trailer while responding to a call to tow stranded vehicles stuck in blizzard conditions near Esterhazy, Sask., on Tuesday.

RCMP confirmed the driver was outside his vehicle when he was killed. 

An officer from the Esterhazy detachment confirmed visibility was limited due to blowing snow when the crash happened.

No charges have been laid in connection with the incident and the investigation is ongoing. The RCMP would not comment on the possibility of charges being laid in the future. 

Drivers want better safety

Although the circumstances of the crash are not clear, the incident has prompted Saskatchewan tow truck drivers to renew calls for new safety measures.  

On March 18, tow truck drivers from Saskatoon, Whitewood and Abernethy, Sask., will form a funeral procession to Esterhazy, Sask., to honour the driver who died on job.

But Brad Stratychuk from the Roadside Responders Association of Saskatchewan Inc. said it is also about raising awareness.

He said drivers are still disobeying the "slow down and move over" law, which requires drivers to travel at 60 kilometres per hour when passing emergency vehicles and tow trucks.

Red and amber lights 'a good first step'

Stratychuk said tow trucks are currently only allowed to have amber lights. His organization has been pushing for the provincial government to legislate a red and amber flashing light system specific to tow trucks, to help differentiate them from other vehicles on the road.

"I think it's a good first step in educating the motoring public," he said of the flashing light proposal.

"I think there has to be some awareness campaigns, I think a higher ticket for people not adhering to the law." 

He believes people have become de-sensitized to amber lights.

Stratychuk said the red and amber flashing light proposal would be considered at the fall sitting of the legislature if it gets the approval of the Saskatchewan Police Commission. His association will be making a presentation to the commission in May. 

Stratychuk said he had been hit in his tow truck twice in his 34 years as a driver. His son's vehicle had also been struck twice.

"You can probably interview any tow truck driver in North America and they'll have a horror story about a pylon getting run over, a mirror brushing them, tearing their jacket," said Stratychuk.

"I mean, it's a daily occurrence; it's not somebody stretching the truth to exaggerate a story, it's a real event that happens every day."

'We don't wear Superman capes'

Dallas Baillie from Baillie Boy's Towing in Abernethy, Sask., will be driving as part of the funeral procession on March 18. 

He would like to see tow trucks designated as "essential services" because the drivers often find themselves in the same situations as emergency responders.

Baillie believes roadside assistance has become increasingly dangerous for tow truck drivers because other motorists are more distracted by their devices.

"We don't wear Superman capes and our tow trucks are not all-terrain indestructible vehicles," said Baillie.

"We can be in just as much danger if we go out on the road to save them, whether our vehicles break down or we get hit on the side of the road when we are trying to save that person."