CBC News has confirmed that a truck driver did in fact call police to warn them about a dangerously parked construction vehicle that was later involved in a fatal accident Tuesday morning on Highway 1 in Langley, B.C.
Abaid Tariq says he was driving a fully-loaded tractor trailer down the eastbound centre lane of Highway 1 in dense fog Monday night when he was forced to veer out of the way of a construction truck that was parked in his lane without proper signage or warning flags.
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Tariq said he also saw two construction crew members working near the parked truck.
Tariq says he was so perturbed by his experience, that he called police at 11:11 p.m. PT to warn them about the danger the construction truck posed to road users, and the danger motorists posed to the workers.
"I told them about the situation — that there is a truck there and a construction crew working there, and it looks sketchy and it's unusual," he told CBC News. "And they said they're going to do something about it."
A few hours later, at about 3:50 a.m. PT, an SUV smashed into the back of the construction truck and exploded, killing the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, 30-year-old Mandeep Singh Aujla, of Abbotsford.
The truck belonged to Chilliwack-based Jakes Construction, a contractor currently building an eastbound truck climbing ramp between 264 and 232 streets. The crew members were unharmed.
CBC News contacted Lower Mainland RCMP on Wednesday to inquire about the alleged 911 call.
At that time, RCMP responded that according to their files, they did not have a record of the phone call.
On Friday, Tariq provided CBC News with a photograph of his phone bill, which shows a 911 call made at 11:11 p.m. PT Monday night, which was directed to the Abbotsford Police Department.
Abbotsford police have since confirmed to CBC News that the call did indeed take place, but that it was redirected to Chilliwack RCMP.
It remains unclear what happened after that point, and neither Chilliwack RCMP nor Lower Mainland RCMP were available to comment Friday.
Two separate warnings
According to Diane Herback of the B.C. Flagging Association, Tariq's call to police was not the only attempt to warn the construction crew to get off the highway.
Herback says that workers with Mainroad Contracting stopped at the scene hours before the fatal accident to tell the crew that they lacked proper signage and flags, and that they were concerned about the extremely foggy conditions.
"[If]] you don't have any advance warning signs and no traffic control on site, somebody is going to die," Herback said. "And two hours, later somebody died."
Company releases statement
Jakes Construction Ltd. initially declined to comment on the incident, which is currently under police investigation.
But William Klassen, assistant general manager of Jakes Construction, later issued a written statement to the media that stated his company has no record of receiving any calls or warnings in the hours leading up to the accident.
The statement also said the Jakes Construction crew had safety measures in place at the time, and that the company is "deeply disturbed by the false allegations" that it was somehow negligent
Read the full statement below.
Jakes Construction Ltd. statement, received Saturday morning
Jakes Construction is deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred early Tuesday morning Oct 22nd 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim and all those affected during this difficult time.
We would like to state that precautionary safety measures were in place at the time of the accident. We have a reputation of being a very safe company and all our business practices reflect this.
Unfortunately, some very inaccurate and false allegations have surfaced. Jakes Construction has absolutely no record of any calls or warnings by any company or association in the days and hours leading up to the accident. Our statement is backed up by personal and written statements from all those involved in this tragic accident and the subsequent allegations. We are deeply disturbed by the false allegations.
Once again, we would like to reiterate safety measures were in place and we take extreme precautions to ensure that our employees and and the public are safe and protected.
We fully respect the process and results of the ongoing investigation and at this time we have no further comment.