Deadly pileup at Butter Pot: Trial involving alleged careless driver postponed until February

A man accused of careless driving in connection to a deadly five-vehicle pileup near Butter Pot Park 17 months ago had his trial postponed Monday.

Horrific chain of events followed after stolen ATV slipped out of stolen pickup

Kyle Follett of Clarke's Beach is charged with careless driving in relation to a deadly five-vehicle pileup on the TCH near Butter Pot Park in April 2016. Two people died. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

The consequences of a deadly pileup of vehicles on the Trans-Canada Highway near Butter Pot Park 17 months ago were on full display Monday at a courtroom in St. John's.

Two grieving widows. An alleged careless driver. A matter that, at most, will result in a fine of less than $200.

And beneath the surface, a theft that precipitated it all.

Trial delayed

Kyle Follett of Clarke's Beach is charged with driving without due care and attention after the April 19, 2016, collision that claimed the lives of teachers Randy Ralph, 52, and Shannon Pittman, 40.

A third teacher was also seriously injured.

Randy Ralph, left, and Shannon Pittman, right, were educators at the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Centre in Whitbourne. Both were killed in a collision on the Trans-Canada Highway in 2016. (Ian Janes/Family of Shannon Pittman)

All three worked at the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Centre in Whitbourne and were travelling east towards St. John's around mid-afternoon.

Traffic had slowed after an all-terrain vehicle slipped out of a pickup truck, with some motorists stepping out to lend a hand.

Sources tell CBC News the ATV was stolen, with the ATV and some other items taken from a cabin earlier in the day on the Salmonier Line. The truck also belonged to a vehicle dealership in St. John's, and was being test-driven by the man at the wheel.

The driver of the pickup has never been charged, and he later died of what sources say was a drug overdose in another province. There was also a female passenger in the stolen pickup.

CBC News has decided not to identify the two occupants of the truck.

Failed to stop

Meanwhile, Randy Ralph, Shannon Pittman and a third teacher, the driver, were stopped in a Toyota RAV4, waiting for traffic to clear.

Kyle Follett was making his way to St. John's in a cube van after making deliveries around Conception Bay North that day, but it's alleged he smashed into the vehicle occupied by the three teachers after failing to stop.

Police are looking to speak to witnesses of a fatal crash on the Trans-Canada Highway near Butter Pot Provincial Park on Tuesday afternoon. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Ralph died at the scene, Pittman the next day. The other teacher sustained serious head trauma.

The Crown is alleging Follett acted carelessly by failing to stop.

Sources say there is no evidence of skid marks to indicate Follett attempted to stop, and that investigators estimate he was travelling at more than 90 km/h when his delivery truck hit the RAV4.

A five-day trial for Follett was scheduled to commence Monday, but it's been postponed until February because the Crown attorney in the case was unable to proceed because of health problems.

Some 24 witnesses are expected to take the stand.

The scene in court Monday was an emotional one, with the widows weeping and expressing frustration over a further delay in the proceedings.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for Shannon Pittman's family confirmed a civil suit is being prepared against Follett and others involved with the pileup.

About the Author

Terry Roberts

CBC News

Terry Roberts is a journalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.