Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the name of the new company
A trucking business “connected” to Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., the company involved in the Humboldt Broncos crash that killed 16 people, has opened at the same Calgary address as Adesh Deol, Global News has learned.
Alberta’s Ministry of Transportation confirmed that while Adesh Deol Trucking remains suspended, one of the drivers connected to the Calgary-based business is working with the new company.
“Alberta Transportation is aware that a numbered company has been registered that is connected to the company involved with the Humboldt incident,” said John Archer, a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Brian Mason. “It is our understanding that one of the trucks and one of the drivers listed from Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. are operating with this numbered company.”
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The ministry said the driver was not the one involved in the Humboldt crash but did not say who the company is registered to. A corporate records search shows that numbered company, 1929282 Alberta Ltd., lists Quality Logistics as a trade partner name and first registered in October 2015.
Quality Logistics was removed from the provincial registry on April 2 for failing to file its annual returns, but eight days after the deadly crash the company was revived on April 14.
On April 20, Quality Logistics – which lists two directors Kuldeep Randhawa and Baltej Singh Brar – changed the company’s address to a home in Calgary where Adesh Deol is located, according to its public corporate profile.
An internal document from the Alberta government, shared with Global News by a source, states that the new company has the same address as the “carrier involved in the accident.”
“Alberta Transportation received information that the carriers’ remaining truck has transferred ownership to a new carrier operating on a temporary Safety Fitness Certificate,” wrote Trudy Nastiuk, executive director of safety and compliance. “Although the new carrier has different ownership, its address is the same as the carrier involved in the accident. Therefore, Alberta Transportation is currently investigating the linkage.”
When reached for further comment, the ministry did not answer questions about the address of the new company or the identity of the owner citing privacy concerns.
“We are not in a position to identify the personnel affiliated with a private company,” Archer said in an email. “The carrier provided proof of training for its sole driver. This training was verified as acceptable.”
Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. is registered to Sukhmander Singh at a residential address in northeast Calgary. The small company had just two Peterbilt trucks at the time of the Humboldt crash, according to a public profile.
Global News contacted Singh, who denied that he or any of his employees have started a new company. When asked about the same addresses for both companies he again adamantly denied owning it or operating it in any way.
The ministry suspended the Quality Logistics safety fitness certificate, stopping it from operating. But that suspension was lifted on June 1 after the company demonstrated it was in compliance with all commercial transportation safety legislation.
“Once the carrier demonstrated that it was in compliance, Alberta Transportation had no legal grounds to maintain the suspension and the suspension was lifted on June 1, 2018,” Archer said. “Alberta Transportation attached conditions to the Safety Fitness Certificate and will conduct a follow-up audit of the carrier over the next three months.”
Sixteen people, including 10 players between the ages of 16 and 21, were killed when a semi-trailer collided with the bus carrying the Broncos junior hockey team as they were travelling to a playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks on Highway 35, about 30 kilometres north of Tisdal.
Canadian Trucking Alliance president Stephen Laskowski said while the province needs to release more details about who is behind the company, it raises questions regarding the possibility of a practice known as “chameleon registration.”
“It’s a tactic of re-registering companies under different corporate names and addresses either locally or in other provinces while still controlling the company to some degree, by the original operators,” he told Global News. “We want this practice to end along with other practices deployed by noncompliant members of our industry.”
“You need practices put in place that would not allow a controlling entity that has been suspended to transfer business operations to another individual.”
Alberta’s Transportation Minister Brian Mason said because the numbered company is legally different company it is allowed to operate.
“Legally it is a different company, they’ve established a new company, that’s been established and they have met all the requirements,” he told Global News. “They will be audited by us within the first 3 months.”
An imminent hazard
Adesh Deol was incorporated in Alberta on April 28, 2014, according to corporate records. But it only appears to have been operating since September 2017, during which time it had no convictions or collisions. According to Alberta government records, the company had a safety fitness rating of “satisfactory unaudited,” a term generally used to describe new carriers with no known compliance issues.
A vehicle inspection report on Feb. 8 in the Northwest Territories obtained by Global News for one of the trucks reveals a driver was issued two tickets and two warnings resulting in the vehicle being taken out of service.
The report states the driver was ticketed for failing to secure dunnage (material used to protect cargo) and for failing to properly fill out daily log books. The driver was also warned for failing to complete his daily log in full and for failing to complete a pre-trip inspection.
An out-of-service defect is one considered “an imminent hazard which, when discovered, render the driver, vehicle, and/or cargo ‘out of service’ until the defects can be addressed,” according to the Alberta government.
“If the government of Alberta has shut down that carrier, there most likely are a lot of other issues that resulted in the suspension,” said Laskowski. Singh said there were no other issues with his company.
Alberta court records also show the company by that name was given a ticket in January for parking a truck off a truck route and a separate ticket in February for a commercial vehicle stopped on the highway resulting in a fine.
Singh has said the 30-year-old driver involved in the crash, who has not been identified, obtained his licence a year ago and had been on the road for two weeks after undergoing two weeks of training.
WATCH ABOVE: One month after the Humboldt crash
More than two months after the crash, there are still many unanswered questions about what caused the collision or whether the driver would be charged. The RCMP have so far only said that the semi-trailer was in the intersection at the time of the crash and that the driver of the semi, who was not hurt, was taken into custody after the collision and released later that evening. He remains in “regular contact” with police, according to RCMP.
The tractor-trailer would have had to yield to a stop sign before crossing over the highway that the hockey bus was travelling on. There is a stand of trees on the southeast corner of the intersection, limiting visibility of the approach on both roads.
Saskatchewan RCMP were not able to comment on the new details but said its Collision Reconstruction Team and Major Crimes Unit continue to analyze the data and evidence gathered in the crash and are preparing to consult with Crown attorneys.
“We are all anxious to learn the results of this investigation to assist in understanding what led to this terrible tragedy,” said Supt. Derek Williams, Officer in charge of Saskatchewan RCMP Major Crimes. “We are committed to sharing the outcome of the investigation as soon as we can.”
There is no timetable on when the investigation might be completed, the RCMP said.
Alberta Transportation said it would be closely monitoring the carrier over the next three months and a suspension would be re-instated following any serious infractions. The province has said it’s reviewing its entry requirements for commercial operators to identify opportunities for enhancing safety among Alberta-based carriers.
In late April, the Saskatchewan government committed to mandatory training for semi-trailer drivers in 2019. A memo from Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) said the province will start with a minimum course length of 70 hours and could move to match Ontario’s requirement of 103.5 hours.
Currently, all provinces require commercial drivers to pass written, medical and road tests, with training encouraged but not mandatory. Only Ontario requires drivers to complete a course in the classroom and at the wheel with a licensed school.
-With files from Reid Fiest and Stewart Bell