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Motorcycle riders in Manitoba call for action after the loss of one of their own

The motorcycle community in Manitoba is calling for change as it mourns the loss of one of its own as a result of a fatal crash Saturday. Brian Elcheshen / Submitted

The motorcycle community in Manitoba is calling for change as it mourns the loss of one of its own as a result of a fatal crash Saturday.

Denis L’Hereux was celebrating his 45th birthday on a charity ride alongside his wife and three kids.

Suddenly, the group hit a long patch of mud on Highway 311. L’hereux skidded into oncoming traffic and was killed by another vehicle.

Family and friends of L’hereux are still in shock and the crash should never have happened, according to Doug Houghton of the Coalition of Manitoba Motorcycle Groups.

“There was two or three hundred feet or more down the road — it wasn’t just in one spot. Given the rain and subsequent traffic, it turned into a greasy surface,” he said.

Houghton is calling on the province to take action by either clearing roads in a more timely manner or investing in signage that farmers and contractors could put near their worksite.

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“The family has no hard feelings for the driver of the other vehicle as he could not stop quickly enough on the greasy surface to avoid the collision,” the coalition says in a letter to MPI and the province.

“According to witnesses, even the RCMP vehicle encountered some difficulty, sliding to a stop when approaching the scene.”

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However, the RCMP tells Global News it did not receive any reports about the roadway prior to the collision.

“This investigation is ongoing and we are looking into the cause and source of the debris on the roadway,” an RCMP spokesperson said.

“We don’t want to make any assumptions at this point as to where that debris has come from.”

Houghton, meanwhile, believes the debris came from agricultural operators.

“This is a common problem that occurs each autumn when agricultural operators are in a hurry to remove crops before winter and is of particular concern this year with the frequency of rainfall,” he said.

“Most operators will remove excessive mud from their implements or even clean road surfaces when leaving fields, but others are not as considerate.”

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The coalition says it is the responsibility of the province to enforce and prosecute negligent actions of people who create unsafe, hazardous conditions on public highways.

“This can include garbage, building materials, discarded vehicles and field refuse, and includes construction sites as well as agricultural operations,” the letter reads.

Houghton also suggests some preventive actions.

“In North Dakota, where field operations adjoin public highways there are warning signs posted advising of muddy, slippery roads ahead,” he said.

The Highway Traffic Act prohibits a driver or passenger of a vehicle from depositing any substance or thing on a highway that may injure a person, animal or vehicle, according to a Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson.

It is also an offence not to remove an injurious substance or thing from a highway. Both offences are subject to a preset fine of $298.

However, law enforcement officers may opt not to ticket for the offence and instead require the offender to attend court, where justice may assess a fine of up to $2,000

“MTI is aware of a pilot project in Ontario to address the dangers of mud on roads following an incident where mud may have been a contributing factor in a collision,” it said.

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The pilot requires two road signs to be located before and after the entrance to the farm or field, warning motorists of the mud and that they should proceed with caution.

“MTI will continue to monitor the outcome of the Ontario pilot and take this suggestion under consideration.”

Global News has reached out to Manitoba Roads for a comment but has not yet heard back.

With files from Global’s Skylar Peters

Click to play video: 'Fatal motorcycle collision leaves Winnipeg man dead'
Fatal motorcycle collision leaves Winnipeg man dead

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