Police have charged a semi-truck driver from Winnipeg in the highway construction zone crash on May 3 that killed three teenage boys at Spalding, Sask. 

Normand Mark Joseph Lavoie, 38, made his first appearance in Melfort provincial court Friday.

He has been charged with three counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

The bodily harm charge relates to a flag person at the site who was injured.

Crash happened in road construction zone

About five kilometres south of Spalding, the car the boys were in was stopped behind a pickup truck. According to RCMP, the car was rear-ended by the semi-trailer.

The crash killed Carter Stevenson, 17, Justin Gaja, 14, and Kristian Skalicky, 15, all from Carrot River. Stevenson had been driving the car, RCMP said.

After the car was hit by the semi, the car hit the pickup, which then struck a construction vehicle and a flag man, Sam Fetherston, who was working at the site. Fetherston ended up in a coma, but came out of it and is recovering. 

Lavoie is scheduled to be back in court on Sept. 22.

The crash shocked Carrot River, a town of 1,000 in the northeast part of the province.

It happened during a time when there was much public attention in Saskatchewan about the dangers of construction zones and the need for drivers to obey speed limits.

"Everyone in general needs to be aware of where they are travelling and keep people safe," Mandy Maier, a spokeswoman for the RCMP, said Friday. "We all need to make sure we are aware of everything when travelling."

The mayor of Carrot River, Bob Gange, said he hopes the charges will help the families affected get closure.

"I was glad, for the families' sake, that the person responsible for this accident will be held accountable," Gange said. "There's still the grieving process and I think that whatever happens — if there's a trial I know that will reopen the wounds for a while."

Doug Wakabayashi, from the ministry of Highway and Infrastructure, noted the province has made changes to improve safety in highway construction zones.

"We continue to engage in extensive public education campaigns and work with our partners, like the Saskatchewan Trucking Association and the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction, to educate people on workplace safety," he said, noting the province has improved signage for construction zones and increased fines for speeding in such zones.