Fatal Whoop Up collision raising questions about safety procedures

LETHBRIDGE – Safety questions are being asked after a 72-year-old Lethbridge man died after his vehicle collided with a front-end loader clearing snow along Whoop Up Drive Friday afternoon.

“We don’t believe speed or alcohol were factors in the collision,” said Sgt. Wade Davidson. “However, environmental conditions given the time of year, the water on the road and the sun, they may play into the cause of the collision.”

Many residents took to social media asking why a snow removal vehicle was operating on that busy road, at that time of day, with drivers battling the bright sun.

“I came up whoop up at about the same time! And I thought that loader was going to cause an accident because of the blinding sun!! Couldn’t even see it!! You would think that the city would have considered the time of day!! How sad!!!! )-:” commented Karen Scarfe on a Facebook post.
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Nicholas ManyFingers commented, “They should have had a pilot truck following the loader warning traffic.

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The City of Lethbridge wouldn’t comment on its safety procedures, but released a statement saying,

We want to express our sympathies and condolences to the family and loved ones of the man who has tragically lost his life as a result of the collision last Friday.
Our City staff are cooperating fully with the Lethbridge Regional Police Service investigation that is underway into this collision.
Although the equipment operator involved was uninjured, he was badly shaken by this incident. We are continuing to provide support for his well-being.
Until the police investigation has been completed, it would be inappropriate for us to say anything further.

The collision prompted LRPS to close West bound Whoop Up Drive for close to five hours, causing grid lock across the city. When two accidents were reported on Highway 3, traffic was nearly at a stand still, igniting an online petition for a third bridge connecting the city to the west side.

The city said the 200-million dollars needed for a third bridge would have to come from the pockets of taxpayers.

“Because the bridge is in the City of Lethbridge the provincial government to this point has viewed it as a local improvement,” said Mayor Chris Spearman. “Any bridge built within city boundaries would have to be funded by local taxpayers.”

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Mayor Spearman says with the new federal government planning to invest in infrastructure, funding may be available down the road.

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