A young man killed by a transport truck on the Trans-Canada Highway Monday morning was an Eastern Health patient who ran from an ambulance after it stopped on the side of the road.
The 19-year-old from the Port Rexton area was being transported to St. John's from another facility in the region, the health authority said in a news release.
According to Eastern Health, the private ambulance stopped along the highway due to the patient’s condition. That's when the young man got out and ran into the woods.
The paramedics contacted police to help with the search, but the patient was struck and killed a short time later.
It was the second ambulance trip for the young man in less than 24 hours.
Sgt. Marc Coulombe of the RCMP said officers had been called to Port Rexton around 9 p.m. Sunday night to assist an ambulance crew in transporting the young man. The officers had escorted the ambulance to the Clarenville hospital.
Some time later that night, the decision was made to transfer the young man to a St. John's hospital.
Eastern Health is looking into what happened before and during the ambulance ride.
"On behalf of Eastern Health, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the patient’s family," CEO Vickie Kaminski said in a statement.
Struck by tractor-trailer
The victim was struck by a tractor-trailer between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on the Trans-Canada Highway near the Foxtrap Access Road, just west of St. John's.
The truck driver appeared to have made an effort to avoid hitting the man. The incident forced police to shut down eastbound lanes until almost 8:30 a.m., forcing thousands of commuters to take regional highways leading into the St. John's area.
RCMP Staff-Sgt. Rick Robinson said weather conditions may have also played a role in the fatality.
"[At] that hour of the morning, it was rainy, there was some fog conditions, [and it was] very, very dark," Robinson told CBC News.
"Visibility was not great for seeing somebody as small as a pedestrian on the roadway."
Robinson said several people had called 911 to report seeing someone on the highway.