Whitehorse Daily Star

Unknown driver sued after fatal accident

An unknown driver and corporation are being sued over a fatal accident

By Emily Blake on September 8, 2017

An unknown driver and corporation are being sued over a fatal accident on the Alaska Highway where a metal device from a tractor trailer struck an oncoming vehicle.

In early June, Ken Baker was killed while driving on the highway near Squanga Lake.

He died after a winch boomer flew off a passing tractor trailer and went through his windshield.

The 58-year-old was a prominent member of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation and one of the Tagish Nation Dancers.

The passenger of the vehicle, Arthur Joe, 65, suffered non-life-threatening injuries from the incident.

Now Joe has launched a lawsuit in the Yukon Supreme Court against the unknown driver of the truck and the driver’s employer or owner of the tractor trailer, alleging that their negligence caused the accident.

Teslin RCMP responded to the accident and launched an investigation to find the driver of the tractor trailer.

At the time, police said the driver did not stop and may not have known what occurred.

Const. Jason Pradolini recently told the Star that while many suspects were identified during the investigation, police weren’t able to conclude who was responsible.

But there are a number of reasons why someone might commence a civil suit in a case where the defendant is unknown.

These include filing a claim before the statute of limitations expires, and it can be a means of getting unavailable information like evidence from a police investigation.

The standard of proof in civil cases is also lower than in criminal cases as it based on a balance of probabilities rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Joe is claiming general and special damages, prejudgment interest and costs.

According to the suit, on June 4, Baker was driving a hatchback north while an unknown person was driving the tractor trailer south on the highway.

As the truck passed the car, the winch boomer protruded or detached from the truck or trailer and hit Baker’s car.

The ratcheting device, which weighs around 30 lbs, is used to tighten and secure heavy-duty cargo straps over the load of flat deck trailers.

Baker died at the scene of the accident.

The suit claims that Joe suffered several injuries. They included a closed head injury with resulting traumatic brain injury, musculoskeletal injuries, abrasions, lacerations and contusions, as well as emotional and psychological injuries.

Joe was treated at the scene of the accident and at Whitehorse General Hospital. He continues to receive medical treatment.

The suit says he will also need future health care, home care supplies and other assistance.

The statement of claim adds that Joe has “suffered a loss of the quality of life, including the impairment of the ability to engage in domestic, social and recreational activities.”

He also claims he has incurred a loss of income and a loss of earning capacity from the accident.

The suit alleges that the incident and resulting damages and losses were caused by the truck driver’s negligence.

It claims this negligence may include failing to keep a proper lookout, driving without due care and attention, and failing to take proper steps to avoid an accident.

It may also include driving at an excessive or improper rate of speed, and failing to secure the winch boomer in an appropriate fashion.

The suit also claims that the incident and losses may have been caused by the negligence of the employer or owner of the tractor trailer.

Those allegations include permitting the driver to operate the vehicle when he or she was inexperienced or unqualified, knowing the vehicle or trailer was mechanically defective and failing to have it properly repaired, or failing to instruct the driver in the proper and safe operation of the tractor trailer.

The claims alleged in the suit have yet to be heard in court.

Comments (7)

Up 4 Down 0

timesall on Sep 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm

... nothing to say it wasn't picked up from the road. Also nothing to say who placed it on the trailer... if it was on the trailer

Up 7 Down 1

Yukongrl on Sep 12, 2017 at 2:25 pm

For those who are unclear as to why you would sue an "unknown party": firstly, it sounds like they have the company already listed. You add "John Doe" to the claim so you are not eliminating your ability to claim for pain and suffering and further damages. Let's say the company is limited in their insurance to retrieve funds from in the lawsuit, you'd then sue the individual for negligence as well and their insurance covers the difference. It's best to list a John Doe and amend the claim later, so you are not missing out on two year statute of limitation period. This will allow you to amend the claim later from a John Doe to the driver (once they figure out the name) and include that person in the claim to avoid being unable to include them in your claim later on. Hopefully that makes sense.

Up 5 Down 2

madmax on Sep 12, 2017 at 12:25 pm

It's hard to believe given the time and date that no information as to the Truck and Driver responsible is available somewhere. The missing cable is not something that a driver and trucking company can overlook given the reportage. All data for trucks travelling the highway, departure/arrival and driver must be available somewhere in someone's business files.

As to the comment of not getting the point of the court action, you must be kidding! What would you do, go home and forget about it?

Up 8 Down 0

Thomas Brewer on Sep 11, 2017 at 10:43 am

@yukon56 RTFA, m'kay?

Up 3 Down 14

yukon56 on Sep 9, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Who is being sued??? I don't get the purpose

Up 11 Down 20

good luck on Sep 9, 2017 at 9:34 am

A good reason for the occasional motion activated camera. If there had been one at the next intersection, we'd be pretty sure who this was.

I bet the driver of the flat deck semi knows exactly who he is but is hoping this will blow over and that he'll never be exposed. A lot of people are happy to avoid all responsibility, even if their insurance companies should be coming forward to help the man they hurt through their negligence. This driver's actions killed someone too. I hope this civil action helps find out who is responsible.

Up 1 Down 7

Ron Melancon on Sep 8, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Go to dangeroustrailers.org

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