UPDATE: Hedderson comments on fatal highway accident

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Andrew Robinson
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Occupational Health and Safety investigating crash

A Royal Newfoundland Constabulary vehicle blocks traffic on the Outer Ring Road following a fatal accident Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

Transportation and works minister Tom Hedderson offered his condolences today to the family, friends, and co-workers of the man killed in a vehicle-pedestrian accident on Tuesday.

Hedderson confirmed that the deceased male in his fifties was an employee from his department.

"It was a terrible shock to hear of the tragic accident on the Outer Ring Road yesterday afternoon involving three individuals,” the minister stated in a news release.

“Sadly, this collision claimed the life of a long-serving employee of the Department of Transportation and Works.”

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is not releasing the name of the deceased man.

Hedderson added that his thoughts were also with the families of the two men injured in the accident, both of whom worked for other parties.

The RNC is expected to provide an update on the health status of those men later today. They were last reported to be dealing with serious injuries.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Government Services has confirmed that an Occupational Health and Safety investigation team was present at the site of the accident Tuesday afternoon. Its investigation is ongoing.

Tuesday’s accident halted traffic on the Outer Ring Road between exits to Thorburn Road and Topsail Road for almost eight hours. The accident occurred at approximately 1 p.m.

Meantime, NAPE President Carol Furlong said the union was shocked to learn of the passing of the man who was a member of the union.

“It is our understanding the person who lost his life is a long-standing member. It is an extremely sad day when an employee loses his life in the service of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador,” Furlong said in a news release.

“All NAPE members are saddened as we reflect on the loss of a colleague. At this time on behalf of all NAPE members I express our deepest sympathy to the family, co-workers, and friends of our deceased member. We also hope for a full recovery of the other two injured workers.”

••••

One dead, two seriously injured after vehicle collides with pedestrians

One person is dead and two people were being treated for serious injuries Tuesday following a collision involving an SUV and pedestrians working on the Outer Ring Road in St. John's.

Const. Suzanne FitzGerald of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) said alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the accident and that investigators were still interviewing witnesses and examining markings at the scene as of late Tuesday afternoon.

No charges had been laid.

"Until they actually review all the evidence from the roadway and speak to all the witnesses, it would be impossible to make that determination," said FitzGerald.

Forensic identification, accident investigation and the major crime units are all involved in the investigation.

The accident happened on the eastbound lane between the exits to Thorburn Road and Topsail Road at approximately 1 p.m., according to an RNC news release. FitzGerald said there was reduced visibility and wet road conditions at the time of the accident.

An SUV collided with three men, who were standing on the gravel portion of the median, according to FitzGerald. They were working in the area at the time of the accident.

Other workers at the scene managed to escape injury, as did the driver. One man in his 50s was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

The RNC will not release the name of the deceased out of respect to his family, according to the release.

The two other males were brought to the Health Sciences Centre where they were being treated for serious injuries.

FitzGerald said the vehicle sustained minor damage, and there was no damage to guardrails along the road. She told The Telegram the driver of the vehicle is co-operating with the RNC in its investigation.

Workers at the scene of the accident represented multiple parties, according to FitzGerald. Information on which agencies or companies were on hand when the accident occurred will not be made available until the family members of those working on the site are contacted.

The accident caused significant traffic jams Tuesday afternoon, as both eastbound and westbound traffic was redirected from the Outer Ring Road at the Thorburn Road and Topsail Road exits.

The redirection of vehicles from the Outer Ring Road created further congestion on Kenmount Road for eastbound and westbound traffic.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

 

Organizations: Health Sciences Centre

Geographic location: Outer Ring Road, Thorburn Road, Topsail Road St. John's Kenmount Road

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Recent comments

  • JG
    July 07, 2011 - 08:26

    My condolences to the families of the workers involved. I was delayed in that traffic back up going to the airport, but I had left myself lots of time as I knew what drivers on the outer ring road are like. I live off island now however I was raised just outside St. John's and when I do return home I hate to go to town for anything. My family torments me cause I get so upset over the drivers in town. I keep saying I don't have enough IDIOT CARDS to give out. I have driven all over Canada and alot in the States and Europe, and I can safetly say that Drivers in and Around St. John's ARE the WORST by far. The like of the Speed is crazy (why they think they are so important is beyond me, get on the go an extra 10 minutes if you are that important to the world, you may save a life when you are not being an idiot). Gabbing on the phone is rampant. Not even looking before they merge at 100+ km coming up an onramp. Hell they don't even look when they pull out into traffic or change a lane. People SPEED KILLS. Instead of getting a bottle of rum or your hair done, get a handsfree device so you can talk and not kill someone, and for God's sake open your eyes and look at whats going on around you. Do this OR ELSE turn in your privilage to drive. And No I have never seen a RNC OR RCMP patrol or speed check on that road. Smarten up or the next life lost may be your own!!!!!!

  • Willy D
    July 06, 2011 - 22:21

    I hope Occupational Health and Safety do a thorough investigation with recommendations for corrective measures to prevent accidents like this from occuring again. If these men were working along the road way, their employers should have provided them with proper signage placed well in advance of their "work site" to warn and caution unsuspecting traffic approaching at a high rates of speed. They should have all been provided and wearing safety vests to make them more visiable to approaching traffic. Did they have access to the proper safety equipement and training required for road side work on a highway by their employer? If not, these could be violations under the OHS Act and fineable offences. Little consulation to the family of the deceased or the other two gentlemen seriously injuried who may have a long recovery ahead of them. Also, it may be premature to rule out other causes to this accident. A witness who was driving behind this vehicle before it went out of control said the vehicle was travelling about 110 and that section of the highway had ruts with water flowing in them at the time. It interesting that speed and hydroplaning are not being considered as contributing factors. One would think that warning signage alerting motorist that there were men working on the road ahead and to reduce speed, may have helped prevent this accident.

  • sharon
    July 06, 2011 - 14:24

    we do quite a lot of driving,and we see some weird things that drivers do and workers as well,first of all its so sad that someone had to lose their life,my pet ,is when the contractors leave their signs up when there isnt anyone working,also some of the flag persons are looking every where only at the traffic,and the dept of highways got to be the worst,i think it high time that something should be done,but i guess its like everything else it means a life has to be lost to get something done.

  • Denise
    July 06, 2011 - 13:08

    My deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased and injured of yesterday's horrible accident. While we know little about the actions of the driver and whether speed, texting, inattentiveness, or weather conditions, or a combination are to blame, we all seem to agree that people are generally not driving in a prudent manner on Newfoundland and Labrador streets and highways. We have cameras on the Outer Ring Road and the CBS highway that, may or may not be activated. And even if they are activated, people will slow to 110 kph and then tear off when they figure they're out of range. If it wasn't tragic, it would be laughable. Last Saturday morning, I PULLED OVER to call the RNC to report a man in an SUV driving erratically and texting on Higgin's Line. I was told I'd have to come in to file a complaint. I said that I could do that but I wanted an officer to stop this guy now. I was told that they didn't have anyone there who could do that. So I said, "You want me to come in but you won't send anyone out to stop this guy." The officer said, "Ya, that's right." He got mad at me and wanted my name. I told him that since he wasn't too concerned about the driver, not to bother and I'd say a little prayer that the driver didn't hurt anyone. I'm not trying to insinuate that the driver of yesterday's accident was driving improperly, but if he was, I hope the police officer who I spoke to will stop and think the next time he gets a report of a bad driver.

  • Christine
    July 06, 2011 - 12:15

    I feel terribly bad for those involved in the collision. My heart goes out to the families of those injured and to the driver who must feel awful. God bless you all. It was an accident waiting to happen. We drove past these men about 10 minutes before the accident happened. They were congregated on the side of the road looking at the median and it appeared they were waiting to cross the road. I noted one man with a navy blue polo shirt on. They wore no safety vests and their vehicles were parked on the road as well. They were a distraction to other drivers. You would have had to veer into the median lane just as a precaution. But I guess if they were on both sides of the road.....

  • jim
    July 06, 2011 - 11:27

    Have all the laws you want - unless we have some kind of presence from a police force, it makes absolutely no difference. Noone figures to be caught speeding or talking on cells or applying makeup. The RNC is a NON FACTOR on St.John's roads and highways. People have no reason to NOT speed as no consequences means no rules. People are not going to stop doing stupid things unless they get caught and noone is looking.

  • Consider the People Working
    July 06, 2011 - 09:16

    I never really thought too much about the speed limits other than following them until it was reminded to me that a family member is one of these people that works on the roads. I make special note now to use extreme caution while driving in these areas as well as school zones. The speed limits are there for a reason. I would not want anyone to be hurt due to my recklessness and lack of concern for someone else's well being. It is very unfortunate that something like this has happened. Lets do our part and try to prevent it from happening again. RESPECT THE SPEED LIMITS - people's lives are at stake!

  • grant
    July 06, 2011 - 08:39

    I confess i speed. I do 120 in 100 km zones. the only place i dont speed is the outer ring road. i do 120 on the outer ring road, where the average speed is 150. the reason i do 120 is the police. i can drive from the airport to corner brook and not see a police car, only when there is an accident.

  • Peggy
    July 06, 2011 - 08:28

    A lot of drivers in NL totally ignore speed limit signs, construction zones slow-downs, nor know the meaning of a Merge sign, or even common sense. Just be on the TCH on a Friday afternoon or Sunday evening, especially between Whitbourne and St. John's. There are innocent people and their families suffering the horrific consequences of such careless, reckless actions. Get more RCMP and RNC out on the highways and roads.

  • Mikalah
    July 06, 2011 - 08:28

    The Outer Ring Road is a DEATH TRAP, we had an accident last year, we were struck by a young driver going 110km. Their will be more deaths on this road if something is not soon done!!!

  • Lady Applies Mascara While Driving
    July 06, 2011 - 08:25

    While driving into town this morning from Paradise I noticed a lady in the lane next to mine applying mascara to her eyes while doing 80 kms an hour and driving with her elbows! You want to know why accidents happen: Stupid, STUPID, SELFISH people, that's why.

  • fred
    July 06, 2011 - 08:14

    If the RNC EVER patrolled the Outer Ring, maybe people would slow down. That and the number of people on cell phones is astounding yet I very rarely see a car pulled over. Every other province would see a blitz that would not only catch a ton of these people but show how rampant the behavior is - the RNC are useless and I would expect more accidents, not less. Senseless.

  • Beebob
    July 06, 2011 - 08:07

    There is no consistence in the rules for work on roadways. Some contractors have a flagperson (some not to smart), some have the 30km sign about 2 km before the site (have you ever tried to go 30 for 2 km) some leave signs up for no reason at night or all weekend, some have one little reflector on a big piece of machinery stuck out on the road, etc., etc. I'm sure none of these dangers etc are looked into, or the contractors warned or fined. It seems these guys don't care because they won't get fined. I see this every day, don't the police see this too, and report it. I guess not, because it never seems to change in all the years I've been driving. THis new double fine rule, again no consistency, the contractor places signs as he sees fit, sometimes no logic to it.

  • Angela
    July 06, 2011 - 08:01

    BOB - A man is dead and your concern is a closed lane? They closed it so people driving wouldn't be distracted trying to see it and cause further accidents. ALSO - they can't move the body until they investigate the scene so maybe just maybe they didn't want people seeing that! You should be lucky it's not you or your family instead of the inconvenience of a bit of traffic.

  • standing on gravel in median
    July 06, 2011 - 07:38

    if that is case; what lane was this fellow driving in? the median lane? what happened; in the driving rain was only matter of time that tragedy like this happened; because in this province workers expected to work on highways and roads while traffic whizzing by at 110 k per hour; up on mainland; roads are closed where possible; lanes are closed at all times and reduced to one lane; huge orange barrels and concrete barriers erected to make work place safety number one priority; in NF u get a orange cone and a flag person; why were these persons working in this type of weather; risking their lives for no good reason; didnt a highways worker die in NS or NB only short time a go; i guess no one in NF learned anything from that; time to use same procedure and safety protocols as Ontario and Quebec; workers in those provinces would not stand for working conditions men and women have to endure in regards to their safety; or lack thereof

    • Gary
      July 06, 2011 - 10:43

      You can place blame wherever you choose but this is not a road problem nor a weather problem nor a police problem. It is a people problem. Until careless people realize that their actions not only put themselves at risk but others there will always be these kinds of tragedies. Bob I assume you made it home safe for dinner last night.

  • Bob
    July 06, 2011 - 07:37

    No damage to guard rails? Sounds like everything was confined to the eastbound lanes.So why would it be necessary to close the westbound lanes for hours? Police have this fixation to close everything down regardless of the seriousness of an accident.

    • Chris
      July 06, 2011 - 07:52

      A man dies and two more are seriously injured and all you can think about is how much an inconvenience it is to you? I know many self-centred people with a heightened sense of importance, but get over yourself. Your comment is indefensible.

    • Jeff
      July 06, 2011 - 08:36

      A man lost his life as a result of this accident, show some compassion here Bob! Your comment would lead one to believe you are one of those who could be guilty of being in a mad tear on the Outer Ring Road.

  • kim
    July 06, 2011 - 06:56

    It just goes to show that with the rain and the ruts in the road along with workers in the area ,that there's a need for more common sense to slow down.My husband and i were travelling towards the airport on monday evening,and there were signs up long before the turn off to the airport.there was a black suv came barrelling down in the right hand lane,at this point the driver should have been in the outside lane.The workers had to move of the road to avoid been hit.He passed every vehicle until he got to where you turn into airport heights.He was a total idiot on thet road.