Pubdate: Thu, 06 Oct 2005
Source: Williams Lake Tribune, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Williams Lake Tribune
Author: Margaret Speirs


The driver of a tractor-trailer who steered his unit into the path of
a truck containing two Terrace men, resulting in the death of all
three, had high levels of chemical drugs in his blood and may have
taken cocaine beforehand, says a comprehensive report from a coroner.

David James Hart, 33, of Abbotsford also had a history of driving
offences and drug use, found coroner John Andrews in his investigation
of the Aug. 27, 2004 collision on Highway 97 near Deep Creek which
killed Dean Vaughn Ganson, 42, and Richard Bruce Brown, 63, who was
driving at the time of the accident.

A toxicology report found Hart had high blood levels of
methamphetamine and amphetamine and detectable levels of cocaine,
which indicate he ingested cocaine within the last 10 hours before his
death, the report said.

It also suggested Hart abused methamphetamine and that the drug causes
symptoms including restlessness, confusion, anxiety and

The pathologist who prepared the report stated that paranoid psychosis
associated with abuse of methamphetamine might have played a role in
the motor vehicle incident, the coroner's findings continued.

Just before 5 a.m. on Aug. 27, 2004, Hart's vehicle, travelling
northbound on Highway 97 collided head-on with the Ganson-Brown
vehicle, which was travelling southbound. The Terrace men were driving
a truck full of seafood.

Prior to the accident, Williams Lake RCMP received reports of an
erratic driver.

An RCMP officer responding to the report encountered Hart and was
nearly run off the road.

The officer started a pursuit with his emergency lights and siren on.
He also observed Hart crossing over into the southbound lane and
forcing oncoming passenger and commercial vehicles to pull off the
highway to avoid him.

The RCMP officer was instructed by his supervisor to back off to see
if Hart's driving would change.

The collision occurred after the officer lost sight of the vehicle
around a curve. When he came around the corner, he saw the
tractor-trailer unit engulfed in flames. The officer estimated that
Hart's vehicle had reached speeds of about 120 km/hr.

The two trucks burned for about four-and-a-half hours before the blaze
could be extinguished.

A number of witnesses stated that they believed Hart's actions to be

A provincial commercial vehicle inspector conducted a mechanical
inspection on Ganson's vehicle and did not find anything that
contributed to the accident. Hart's vehicle could not be inspected due
to the heavy damage and extent of the blaze.

The Williams Lake RCMP collision analyst who investigated the accident
reported that the left side tires of the Ganson-Brown vehicle made a
set of marks stretching 25.90 metres, showing the driver had braked
and moved onto the west shoulder of the southbound lane. The analyst
found that Hart had not braked.

When Hart started his shift at 11 p.m. the night of Aug. 26, he was
described as agitated and anxious to begin his trip.

His erratic driving was first noticed south of Cache Creek. Drivers
reported that Hart was swerving into southbound traffic, forcing
drivers onto the shoulder, tailgating, blinding motorists with his
lights, passing on a double solid line and speeding

The coroner has recommended better access to driving

"In order to assist commercial vehicle carriers, commercial drivers,
and others requiring more effective access to driver abstracts, I
recommend that consideration be given to the development and
implementation of electronic online access to driver abstracts in
British Columbia," said Andrews.

The recommendations will be forwarded to transportation minister Kevin
Falcon, solicitor general John Les and attorney general Wally Oppal.
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