A trucking company has been found liable in a 2010 fatal accident on Highway 1 east of Revelstoke.
The file was brought to court when Taiko Carriers sued Highland Transport claiming damages for losses incurred as a result of the accident. Highland Transport counter-sued and Harley Biermann, the surviving driver, also sued Taiko Carriers.
All three actions were brought before one judge in B.C.’s Supreme Court to determine who was responsible for the accident.
On Feb. 3, 2010, at around 1:40 a.m., Mihail Atanasov was driving a Taiko Carriers transport truck eastbound on Highway 1 east of Revelstoke when he collided with a Highland Transport truck driven by Harley Biermann.
Atanasov and his passenger died in the accident.
The lawsuits were commenced two years after the accident and the judgment came down on April 8, 2019 in Vancouver.
Winteringham heard from both Biermann as well as Jarret Petrar, another truck driver, who did not witness the accident but did encounter the Taiko truck on the highway that night.
Berimann has been a truck driver for over 45 years and at the time had been driving the Calgary to Vancouver route every other night for three months.
Taiko’s representative suggested that Beirmann’s truck was in a jack-knife position at the time of the accident, which was plausible given the snowy and wet conditions on the highway that night. The company had hired Timothy Leggett, a professional engineer, to reconstruct the accident. He determined that the collision was a t-bone style impact.
However, Highland Transport also hired an engineer, James Hrycay, to reconstruct the accident, who came to another conclusion.
“Impact was neither a shallow angle side-swipe nor a 90-degree t-bone impact, but at some intermediate angle between those values,” Hrycay said in his analysis of the accident.
Beirmann denied that his trailer was jack-knifing at the time of the accident saying that it was “exactly where it was supposed to be”.
He was accused of using his trailer brakes that night, potentially causing his truck to jack-knife given the slippery conditions.
During cross-examination the judge noted that Beirmann seemed “genuinely surprised, during his cross-examination, with the suggestion that he would have used his trailer brakes in the circumstances presented.”
Petrar, another driver on the highway in the area that night, testified that the Taiko driver was driving erratically before the accident, especially given the conditions. He described the driver’s several attempts to pass both Petrar and another vehicle on the highway, pulling out and then slowing down and pulling back behind a few times before succeeding.
As well as witnesses and testimony from the RCMP officer who first arrived on the scene, the judge heard reports from both engineers as well as cross-examinations.
“I have found that Leggett’s theory, as explained by him, was flawed because it drove an analysis with a starting point that was inconsistent with the evidence tendered during the trial and with the findings of fact I make,” Winteringham said.
Winteringham agreed that Biermann’s truck was not in a jack-knife position and that the driver of the Taiko truck drove across the centre-line and was 100 per cent at fault for the accident.
“If the parties are unable to agree on costs, they may speak to the issue,” Winteringham said.