Mechanic’s vehicle caused accident: coroner

A mechanic’s vehicle parked on the Alaska Highway created “a dangerous situation,” ultimately leading to the death of a trucker, the territory’s chief coroner has found.

A mechanic’s vehicle parked on the Alaska Highway created “a dangerous situation,” ultimately leading to the death of a trucker, the territory’s chief coroner has found.

The judgment of inquiry recently released details of the February 2014 incident, when Robert Blue died after rear-ending a semi-trailer.

The 61-year-old trucker was heading back to Edmonton from Whitehorse.

Another truck had broken down and was parked on the shoulder, facing east, outside Watson Lake.

A mechanic parked in the eastbound lane, facing oncoming traffic, chief coroner Kirsten Macdonald wrote.

There were cones behind the two vehicles but they weren’t arranged in a way that would make it clear to oncoming drivers that the entire lane was blocked off, the report said.

The cones were not effective to warn drivers, Macdonald wrote.

The disabled truck also didn’t have its lights on.

When Blue, who was heading east, came across the mechanic’s headlight, he swerved to the right and used his brakes, rear-ending the broken-down truck.

He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt at the time and the airbag didn’t trigger.

“It is unknown whether or not the use of these safety measures would have mitigated the injuries,” Macdonald wrote.

He died as a result of his injuries.

Collision analysis determined he was driving within the posted speed limit.

There were no illicit drugs or alcohol found in his blood during the autopsy.

Macdonald ruled the death accidental and made no recommendations.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com.

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