It was a blustery winter day with near blizzard conditions. A call came to the office reporting a serious head-on collision, a gas tanker unit collided with an oncoming car.
I got the assignment from the gas tanker’s company and headed out to the scene about 35 miles southwest of Winnipeg. Tow trucks were already preparing to remove the damaged vehicles. The two drivers had been taken by ambulance to hospital, my driver in the gas tanker wasn’t too badly injured. However, the car driver was in serious condition. I was able to interview my driver that same day.
His story in a nutshell was he was heading southbound in the poor conditions. When passing by an oncoming car heading northbound, out of the swirling snow appeared a van, in my guy’s lane! It was overtaking the approaching car. Decision time for my driver!
Stay in his lane and hit oncoming the van head-on or swerve to the right into the ditch. Before he could decide, the oncoming van swerved way left into the same ditch he contemplated crashing into. The tanker driver breathed a short-lived sigh of relief. He entered the cloud of snow and unknown to him was a second oncoming car. He collided with it near or just over the center of the highway.
When asked about the identity of the van, the tanker driver could only recall it was a green GMC with a white van body and writing on the side. In the following days, I spoke with the other more seriously injured driver & the RCMP – none of whom could identify the van. Incidentally, this driver perhaps didn’t know a collision occurred, this happening behind him with zero visibility.
A month passed. The police finally gave up on identifying the unknown van. It became apparent that my tanker driver would be held responsible. I felt I had to locate this truck and identify the owners. It had to have come from one of several towns south of the scene. I had routinely handled claims in these towns and developed a wide range of contacts. I got a tip on some trucking companies with vehicles of the type in question. I travelled to meet with the owners in hope of finding the culprit! One such company was in the city of Winkler, about 125 kilometres from Winnipeg. Indeed, they had a small fleet of similar vehicles. However, I was assured their drivers didn’t use the highway in question but used one farther east.
I had run out of leads. It was late in the afternoon and time to go home. I decided to take the highway that passed by the scene. I had been driving for half an hour and passed countless vehicles. I was now meeting another truck. As it drew closer, I saw it was a green GMC. Had a white van body. Had lettering on the side. We passed. I kept driving. It was late, passed supper time. Naw, this can’t possibly be the truck I’ve been trying find. What are the odds? …Oh, What the heck!
I did a quick u-turn, sped up and caught up to the van, pulled along side and motioned to the driver to pull over. He didn’t. I honked repeatedly and emphatically motioned to pull over. Finally, he did. I’m not even sure if this is the truck in question. What will I say to him? If it’s him, I needed to make him think I know he’s my man! I approached his truck, yanked open the driver’s door and said: “what in the world were you thinking?” Bewilderedly, he said: “ what are you talking about? “ I replied:” You know what I’m talking about, that accident near Sanford. Why would you pull out and pass a car in poor visibility?!” He answered my question by saying: “ I didn’t pull out to pass a car. I came upon a car in front and couldn’t see it until I nearly rear ended it. I slammed on my brakes, but there must have been ice or snow stuck in the brakes. My truck swerved left into the oncoming lane. Then I saw a tanker in that lane. I swerved further left into the ditch avoiding the tanker. “
Bingo! I found my man. I took a detailed statement from him. Incidentally, he worked for the Winkler company who told me their drivers didn’t take that route. They lied to me!! I strongly suspect their driver must have informed them of his near miss! Idiots!
Two years later the matter went to trial. We won!
Back to the moment when I identified the van and after I took the driver’s signed statement , I was alone in my car. I pumped my fist and screamed to myself, “ Y E S !”
What were the odds?
You will want to read Episode number 3, next. It’s about a crooked lawyer!