Montreal

A devastating Christmas for family of NDG man fatally hit by snow-removal truck

On Dec. 18, Dereck Husband was going for his usual evening walk along Sherbooke Street in his Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood. Shortly after midnight, police say he was struck and killed by a snow-removal truck.

Dereck Husband, 50, was struck, dragged and killed by a snow-removal truck last week, police say

Dereck Husband's family described him as a sweet and funny person who didn't deserve such a tragic death. (CBC)

Dereck Husband was looking forward to Christmas dinner with family this year.

"He said 'You're gonna have turkey?' I said yes. 'You're gonna have dressing too?' Yes and gravy. He said 'I gotta come,'" his mother Elaine Husband recalled.

"But where is he? He's not here."

On Dec. 18, Dereck Husband was going for his usual evening walk along Sherbooke Street in his Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood.

Shortly after midnight, near Girouard Avenue, police say Husband was hit by a snow-removal truck and dragged several metres before he died. He was 50 years old.

"He was broken [in] three places. And they say the heart stop beating," his mother said. "That hurts, being dragged, because that's tragic. His death was tragic. And he doesn't deserve [a] tragic death."

Dereck Husband's mother Elaine says she hasn't heard from police since she was told of her son's death. She's been getting her updates from the news. (CBC)

Unclear circumstances

The driver of the snow-removal truck didn't see Husband coming that fateful night, and didn't even realize he'd hit someone, according to his boss Eric Racine.

His company, Transport E Racine, was sub-contracted by Quebec's Transport Ministry to carry out snow-removal on highway ramps. 

He says the truck was going 20 km/h, the driver was not tired and visibility was good. The incident was the company's first accident since it started doing snow removal in 1989, he added.

The police, Racine and Husband's family all have different hypotheses about his death. It is still unclear where the accident happened or who had right of way. There were no witnesses.

Racine believes Husband may have slipped and fallen before the truck approached.  

Husband's family doesn't believe that.

"He was sure-footed. He walks, he runs," said Earl Husband, Dereck's older brother.

Husband always took the same walk along the same route every night and always crossed at the light, his brother added.

"If you were driving 20 [km] an hour, you'd see him."

Earl Husband doesn't believe the hypothesis that his brother, Dereck, slipped and fell before he was killed by a snow-removal truck. (CBC)

'I need answers'

A fateful coincidence, however, has brought another element of the story to the fore.

Exactly 11 years before Husband died, 21-year-old Jessica Holman-Price was also killed by a snow-removal truck in neighbouring Westmount.

Since then, her mother Jeannette Holman-Price has fought tirelessly to make heavy trucks safer, notably by adding side guards, which are rails mounted between the front and rear wheels of a big truck to stop a pedestrian or cyclist from sliding underneath the wheels.

"Steps could have been taken before people got hurt there," said Earl Husband, Dereck's older brother. "It's probably going to be very costly to [put side guards]. That's probably why it hasn't been done before."

I'm devastated. He's my brother. He's my little brother. And I'm going to miss him.- Earl Husband, brother of man killed by snow-removal truck

The Husband family says they would like to see a law passed that makes side guards mandatory on heavy trucks, as is already the case in the Westmount and Saint-Laurent boroughs.

However, it is unclear whether side guards would have made a difference. Racine's wife, Nancy Boisier, doesn't think they could have saved Husband that night.

For the Husband family, what is clear is that they need more information.

Dereck's mother Elaine says she hasn't heard from police since she was told of her son's death. She's been getting her updates from the news.

"I'm not angry [with the driver], but I need answers," she said.

Until then, the family is preparing to lay to rest a man they describe as funny and sweet.

"I'm devastated. He's my brother. He's my little brother. And I'm going to miss him," said Earl Husband.

"He's not going to be around anymore."

Dereck Husband's funeral will take place Thursday. 

Dereck Husband's funeral will be held Thursday, Dec. 29.