Company charged over Shellbrook overpass damage

Matt Gardner
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A local contracting company and motorist are facing charges for failing to remain at the scene of an accident last fall after causing thousands of dollars in damage to the Shellbrook overpass that briefly led to its closure to traffic.

Scott Golding, one of the city’s engineers, tries to get a handle on the damage on Oct. 30 after a truck with an oversize load ran into the bottom of the Shellbrook overpass bridge on Highway 2, just north of Prince Albert.

The incident occurred on Oct. 30, 2013 when a semi-unit hauling a piece of heavy equipment, later determined to be a tree harvester, struck the Shellbrook overpass.

“We had several witnesses there at the time … but nobody got a good identification on the truck, nobody got a licence plate and they left before police arrived,” Sgt. Curtis Halcro said at a Monday press conference.

“We were on the lookout for this truck and trailer outfit and finally determined it to belong to a local contracting company.”

Both the company and the operator of the semi-trailer truck at the centre of the incident are facing three violations under the Highways and Transportation Act and one charge under the Traffic Safety Act.

The Highways Act violations include damaging a public improvement and operating a vehicle on a public highway exceeding the maximum dimensions set out in regulations, and would oblige the responsible party to cover the costs of the damage.

The Traffic Safety Act charge, meanwhile, relates to the requirement of any motor vehicle operator involved in an accident to notify other parties involved and provide relevant information.

Mayor Greg Dionne expressed his satisfaction that the parties allegedly responsible for the overpass damage are now facing charges.

“I’m very pleased,” Dionne said. “I’m very disappointed that the company wasn’t charged with more, because of the manpower and the cost that we invested to find out who did it.”

“But I’m very pleased and I want to congratulate our police department with the fine work that they did by finally tracking the company down and laying charges,” he added.

They hit our structure and then ran … I’m looking forward to finding out who that company is and then expressing my deep disappointment to them. Mayor Greg Dionne

The mayor noted that his first concern was the damage caused to the overpass and who would end up paying for it.

“If we wouldn’t have caught the people, it would have been on the backs of the taxpayer,” he said.

“Now that we have them identified, it’ll be on their backs.”

Dionne strongly emphasized his disappointment in the company for failing to “do the right thing and come forward.”

“As the mayor, I was just shocked,” he said. “They hit our structure and then ran … I’m looking forward to finding out who that company is and then expressing my deep disappointment to them.”

SGI is expected to handle any claim by the city for damage costs.

The damage led to the overpass being closed to traffic for several days after the incident before re-opening, as workers looked for structural damage to determine any potential safety risks.

City transportation manager Keri Sexsmith noted that while the overpass remains open to traffic, a more long-term plan to address the damage is expected to begin within the next few months.

“The inspector has told us that we can put normal traffic back on there until such time as we do get it fixed, so we’re looking at getting it fixed in the spring,” Sexsmith said.

Pending their first court appearance, police have not released the name of the company allegedly involved with the overpass damage.

Both the company and the operator of the vehicle have been served with a summons to appear in provincial court in Prince Albert on Tuesday, March 4 at 9:30 a.m.

Geographic location: Shellbrook, Prince Albert

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