The truck driver whose near collision with a tractor-trailer and snowplow on a northwestern Ontario highway has gone viral says he never expected so much attention.
"We were hoping to get between 500 and 1,000 hits," said Art Ginter, whose video of the incident has garnered more than one million views on YouTube as of Sunday afternoon.
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Ginter, who lives in Winnipeg and is married with three children, was driving his tractor-trailer north on Highway 11 just north of Nipigon on Jan. 4 when he turned a corner and saw something unusual.
"To be honest, for a split second, it didn't even compute what I was looking at," said Ginter, who soon realized another truck was attempting to pass a snowplow in the oncoming lane of the narrow highway.
"And that's when you hear the panic in my voice," said Ginter, "because I applied my brakes, and it wasn't slowing down. I was roughly 82,000 pounds [37,000 kilograms] and going downhill."
Ginter managed to swerve his vehicle out of the way and into the guardrail, narrowly missing both the other truck and the plow. No one was hurt in the incident, but Ginter said it could have easily gone much worse.
"I didn't know if I was going to get out of the situation," he said. "I didn't know if I was going to die."
Huge financial hit
Ginter has been a truck driver since 1990. He installed a camera on his windshield last year, mostly to share some of the experiences he had on the road with his family.
At the time, Ginter was hoping to catch some of the back country scenery and interesting weather he encounters on his cross-country journeys — not to keep a visual record of a near-death experience.
"But in this case, I was glad I had it," he said.
Ginter said the driver of the other tractor-trailer left the scene before Ginter could get out of his truck.
He said he shared the video with Ontario Provincial Police shortly after the incident, but he and his wife decided to post it online in hopes that it might help identify the other driver.
'We just want them to accept responsibility.' - Cheryl Ginter, wife of truck driver Art Ginter
"We're not out to throw this driver under the bus," said Cheryl Ginter. "We just want them to accept responsibility, so that our lives can go forward."
Both Art and Cheryl Ginter said their insurance company, Manitoba Public Insurance, is charging them a $2,500 deductible for the damage to Ginter's truck. Ginter estimates the total cost of the damage at $25,000.
"This is a huge hit to our family financially," said Cheryl Ginter. "We have no income through the truck, we still have to pay our bills, and then on top of that MPI wants their deductible."
Brian Smiley, a media relations co-ordinator for MPI, declined to comment on a specific case, but said he encourages the Ginters to show the video to their insurance adjuster.
'We're floored at the response'
The video has sparked a lot of discussion online, drawing more than 1,000 comments on YouTube alone. Some users have said it appears from the video that Ginter was travelling too fast for the snowy conditions, and didn't brake soon enough to avoid a collision.
Ginter said he was travelling between 70 km/h and 80 km/h in a zone where the speed limit was 90 km/h, and that he tried to stop as soon as he realized what was happening.
'I don't know what else I could've done.' - Art Ginter
"But ... you don't want to be hitting the brakes too hard, because then your trailer might start coming around on you," he said.
"And then it would have been a whole lot more of a mess."
Ginter said most of the people commenting online seem to be "in [his] corner on the deal," and his wife agrees.
"We're floored at the response to this," said Cheryl Ginter. "This is really overwhelming for us."
Ginter said it was only a few days after the incident before he was back behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer, although his company, Plett Trucking, kept him out of Ontario for the first few weeks.
"They just kept me on the Prairies, and kept me on four-lane roads for awhile," he said.
He said the incident hasn't changed the way he drives, since he always prided himself on being a careful driver.
"There's really only so much a person can do to stay safe out there," he said. "When it gets into a situation like this, I don't know what else I could have done."
Ontario Provincial Police say they are investigating the incident. A call by CBC News to the Nipigon detachment on Sunday was not returned.