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Truck driver charged after sign collapse closed Highway 401 in Whitby, police say

Police haven't said when they expect the sign structure to be removed from the highway. (Naomi Robinson/CBC News - image credit)
Police haven't said when they expect the sign structure to be removed from the highway. (Naomi Robinson/CBC News - image credit)

A transport truck travelling with its box raised collided with a sign over Highway 401 westbound in Whitby Friday morning, police say, causing the entire structure to "buckle and collapse" and block traffic for hours.

The initial collision happened near the Brock Street exit shortly before rush hour.

Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the driver of the truck — which he described as a "scrap hauler" — continued for about 100 metres up the highway before stopping. The driver then dropped the box and exited onto Brock Street, according to Schmidt.

A witness helped police identify the truck and provided a description of the driver. In a series of videos posted to Twitter, Schmidt said police were headed to the company that apparently owns the truck. He encouraged the driver to contact police and arrange to turn himself in.

On Friday afternoon, Schmidt confirmed officers had located the driver, a 24-year-old man from Brampton. Police say he has been charged with careless driving, an over-height vehicle, and failure to remain at the scene.

Crews spent the morning working to remove the fallen sign structure from the highway and all lanes have now reopened.

All of the westbound lanes were initially blocked. Most traffic was diverted off the highway at Thickson Road, but some transport trucks, unable to turn around due to their size, were trapped on the highway for hours.

All lanes have since reopened.