Joel Krahn/Yukon News file

Widow of Carcross/Tagish dancer sues unknown truck driver, companies for negligence

Emily Bear, the widow of Ken Baker, is suing an unknown truck driver, two companies and an employee

The widow of a Carcross/Tagish First Nation man who was killed in June when a winch boomer fell off a tractor-trailer and struck his vehicle has launched a lawsuit against the truck’s unknown driver and owners.

Emily Bear, the spouse of Tagish Nation Dancer Kenneth Raymond Baker, filed a statement of claim to the Yukon Supreme Court Dec. 15. The lawsuit alleges that the negligence of an unknown driver, two companies that owned the truck and semi-trailer and an employee who authorized the trip caused Baker’s death.

Bear is seeking general damages, special damages and costs, as well as any other awards the court sees fit. The defendants are referred to simply as John Doe, Doe Corporation #1, Doe Corporation #2 and Jane Doe.

Generally speaking, lawsuits can be filed against people or entities whose identities are unknown. Typically, this is done when there’s limited information on who the defendants are and in order to meet a statute of limitations. Once a defendant is properly identified, the lawsuit can be amended to include a real name.

Bear’s lawsuit mirrors one filed earlier this year by Arthur Joe, who was travelling with Baker and injured in the incident.

According to the statement of claim, Baker, age 58, was driving north on the Alaska Highway near Squanga Lake in a 1998 Ford Escort hatchback June 4 when a portable winch boomer “detached from or protruded from” a tractor-trailer travelling in the opposite direction. The winch boomer struck the Ford, resulting in Baker’s death.

The truck did not stop following the incident. In an emailed statement Dec. 21, Teslin RCMP Detachment Commander Cpl. Geoff Peters said that despite an “extensive investigation” by police with assistance from the Yukon Coroner’s Service, Department of Highways and Public Works, British Columbia RCMP and British Columbia Commercial Vehicle Safety & Enforcement, the truck driver has not been identified. At the time, police said it was possible the driver didn’t realize what happened.

The lawsuit alleges that the Baker’s death was caused or contributed to by the driver’s negligence, which includes “failing to keep a proper or any lookout,” “driving without due care and attention,” “failing to take reasonable and proper steps to avoid an accident in the circumstances,” “driving at an excessive or improper rate of speed” and “failing to secure and inspect the Winch Boomer in an appropriate fashion” on the truck or trailer.

An unknown employee for either corporation is also “vicariously liable” for the incident, the lawsuit continues, and was negligent for permitting the driver to operate the truck “when she knew, or reasonably ought to have known” that the driver was “inexperienced or … not qualified or authorized” to operate it. The employee also failed to instruct the driver “in the proper and safe operation” of the truck and trailer.

“The fatal injuries suffered by … Kenneth Raymond Baker were caused by, or contributed to by the negligence of the Defendants,” the lawsuit concludes.

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

Alaska Highwaytraffic fatalityYukon courts

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