Truck driver fined $1,100 for August crash near Rancheria

‘I can’t even argue with that’

The driver of the tanker truck that crashed on the Alaska Highway near Rancheria in August, spilling thousands of litres of fuel onto the roadway and shutting it down for more than 24 hours, pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to falsifying his log records to make it appear he’d taken mandatory breaks.

Larry Chichak pleaded guilty to two charges under the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations — one count of entering inaccurate information into his daily log and one count of driving for more than 15 consecutive hours without taking an eight-hour break — in a Whitehorse courtroom Dec. 12. He received a $700 fine for the first charge and a $400 fine for the second.

The Crown stayed two other charges against Chichak.

According to facts read out in court, Chichak, who was driving for Pacesetter Petroleum Ltd. at the time, drove from Whitehorse to Edmonton Aug. 5 with an empty truck and returned Aug. 7 with two tankers’ worth of fuel. The minimum amount of time to drive from Whitehorse to Edmonton, without any breaks, is 23 hours, the Crown said. Chichak completed the trip in just under 24-and-a-half hours.

Similarly, the minimum amount of time to drive from Edmonton to Watson Lake is 18 hours. Chichak completed that trip in just under 22-and-a-half hours.

Chichak’s log was inconsistent with the times he was seen at weigh stations or refuelling stations, the Crown said, and appeared to have been altered to make it seem like he was “driving less, with more rest.”

Chichak crashed his truck heading north on the Alaska Highway near Rancheria around 8 p.m. Aug. 7, spilling more than 56,000 litres of gas.

Asked by Judge Nancy Orr if he agreed with the suggested fine, Chichak responded, “I can’t even argue with that.”

Pacesetter Petroleum is also facing four charges under the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations in relation to the incident and will appear in court Jan. 9. It’s the second time in about as many months the local bulk-fuel delivery company has been in court: in late October, it pleaded guilty to charges related to a June tanker rollover at the intersection of the Alaska and North Klondike highways.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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