Speeding SUV kills Saskatchewan man at crash site

A 35-year-old man is facing several charges in conncection with a fatal crash that killed a conservation officer trying to help out at the scene of previous collision Friday afternoon.
This black SUV ended up rolling off Highway 11 into a ditch near Circle Drive. A short time earlier, police say, it sped through a crash site where it hit and killed Justin Knackstedt, 23, who was helping divert traffic. (CBC)

A 35-year-old man is facing several charges in connection with a fatal crash that killed a conservation officer trying to help out at the scene of previous collision Friday evening.

Justin Knackstedt, 23, and a colleague were on their way to Blackstrap Provincial Park when they stopped to lend a hand at a two-vehicle crash on Highway 11.

Police said Knackstedt, who worked for the Saskatchewan Environment Ministry, was trying to control traffic on the north end of Highway 11 as a traffic analyst was investigating the collision in the southbound lanes.

RCMP received calls about a black SUV that was being driven erratically speeding towards the crash site.

At about 7:40 p.m. CST they spotted a vehicle matching the description in the line of traffic waiting to go through. Police said in a release, "after a short interaction between driver and officer, the SUV sped off northbound on Highway 11 towards Saskatoon."  

Knackstedt, who is from Watson, Sask., was knocked down by the SUV and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

RCMP officers again tried to stop the black SUV, but it sped off northbound on Highway 11 towards Saskatoon, until it rolled into a ditch at the Highway 16 overpass near Circle Drive.

Blaine Thomas Taypotat, of Saskatoon,  was arrested and is facing several charges, including dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, criminal negligence causing death, impaired driving causing death and flight from a peace officer causing death.

He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Knackstedt described as "great kid"

Knackstedt's supervisor, Kerry Wrishko, said word got out to the rest of the conservation officers with the Environment Ministry and the news has hit them pretty hard.

"We are extremely sad and we're sorry for the family," Wrishko told CBC News Saturday.

"Our sympathies go to the family. Justin is from Watson, Sask. He has a very close-knit family. His mother and father, brother and sister reside there yet, and our sympathies are to the family at this time," he continued.

Mike Demyen, Knackstedt's former instructor in the Resource Environment Law Program at SIAST in Prince Albert told CBC News he was shocked to hear what happened.

"He was a great kid," said Demyen. "Really good character. Nice, likeable person. Funny, smart intelligent. Came from a great family."

Knackstedt graduated from SIAST a few years ago and he and Demyen remained friends. He said Knackstedt loved his job.

"He would talk about it continuously," said Demyen. "He loved all the different aspects of it, the dealing with the people, the dealing with the wildlife and fisheries aspects of it…he was a great outdoorsmen."

"It's too bad that it was cut short at such an early time because he would have been a fantastic career officer."

Demyen said it's no surprise that Knackstedt stopped to help at the crash scene Friday.

"He almost felt obligated, like it was his duty, his civic duty to stop and help people out."

Initial Highway 11 crash

The crash Knackstedt was helping out at happened at 5:30 p.m. CST Friday between a pickup truck pulling a trailer and a car.

One person from that crash was taken to hospital to be treated for their injuries.