Calgary

Calgary trucker never drank on the job, court told

A driver whose cement truck smashed into the back of a car at a southeast intersection never drank on the job, his former boss testified at a Calgary manslaughter trial Wednesday.
Daniel Tschetter is on trial for manslaughter in connection with a collision that left five people dead. ((CBC))

A driver whose cement truck smashed into the back of a car at a southeast intersection never drank on the job, his former boss testified at a Calgary manslaughter trial Wednesday.

Daniel Tschetter, 50, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of manslaughter, five counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of obstruction in the crash that killed five people in December 2007.

A witness testified on Tuesday that she smelled alcohol on Tschetter's breath after the accident.

His former boss, C and J Construction owner Joe Lyttle, testified Wednesday that Tschetter worked for him for 2½ years and was his best driver.

He didn't drink on the job and if others brought booze to the worksite, Tschetter was always on their case about it, Lyttle said.

Chris Gautreau, 41, and his daughters, Alexia, 9, and Kiarra, 6, were among the five people killed in the crash. ((CBC))

However, construction companies sometimes exchange gifts of booze with cement plants, Lyttle added.

Balfour Der, Tschetter's lawyer, said outside court that Lyttle's testimony explained why a bottle of vodka was found in the cement truck.

"One of the things the evidence showed today was it wasn't uncommon for people in that industry to hand out a bottle as an appreciation gift to some of the people they worked with," Der said.

Truck driver having a bad day

Court heard that the trucker wasn't in a good mood before the accident.

One witness testified that Tschetter was swearing because the water lines on his cement truck were freezing. Lyttle testified that Tschetter radioed to say he was having a really bad day.

"One of the worst days of work in his lifetime," recalled Lyttle, who didn't press Tschetter on why.

The next time Lyttle heard from his employee was after the crash.

Tschetter, who sounded erratic and nervous, said he had rear-ended someone and asked to be picked up, without giving a hint of how bad the accident was, Lyttle testified.

Chris Gautreau, 41, his daughters, Alexia, 9, and Kiarra, 6, Gautreau's fiancée, Melaina Hovdebo, 33, and her son, Zachary, 16 months, were killed in the crash at 194 Avenue and Macleod Trail S.E.

The trial is expected to continue into  next week.

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