19-year-old crash victim was intoxicated, fatigued and distracted by phone, Yukon coroner says

Elizabeth Boyd died in June after taking a Yukon government vehicle without permission, and driving it off the Alaska Highway near Haines Junction.

Elizabeth Boyd died in June after driving a Yukon government vehicle off the Alaska Highway

Elizabeth Boyd of Whitehorse was killed in a road accident near Haines Junction on June 13. She was driving a Yukon government vehicle without permission at the time. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

A 19-year-old Yukon woman, killed in June after driving a vehicle off the Alaska Highway, was intoxicated, under-slept, not wearing a seatbelt, and distracted by her phone at the time of the accident, the territory's coroner has found.

The victim, Elizabeth Boyd, was also driving a government vehicle without permission when the accident happened.

Yukon chief coroner Heather Jones's judgment of inquiry report, issued Nov. 14, describes the circumstances leading up to the fatal accident on June 13.

According to the report, Boyd and a friend were driving in a pickup truck from Whitehorse to Haines Junction early that morning when they intentionally drove off-road, and got stuck in the ditch. After trying for two hours to free the pickup, with no luck, Boyd went to a nearby Yukon government highways work site at Cracker Creek and found a vehicle to use.

Boyd and the friend then drove the government "emergency transport vehicle" (ETV) — a repurposed ambulance — to Haines Junction, 43 kilometres away, to pick up another vehicle to bring back and use to free their stuck pickup truck.

According to the coroner, a witness said the ETV passed him on the way to Haines Junction and was being driven in an "erratic" manner.

The accident happened later that morning, as Boyd was driving the ETV by herself back toward Cracker Creek, presumably to return it to the work site. 

The coroner's report says Boyd and a friend used the government vehicle to drive to Haines Junction. The accident happened as Boyd was driving the vehicle, by herself, back toward the government work site where it came from. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Shortly after 7 a.m., she passed the same witness as earlier, this time heading east. The witness noticed that Boyd was not wearing a seatbelt, and seemed to be looking down as she passed him.

Six kilometres further down the highway, skid marks showed where Boyd lost control and drove off the road. The vehicle rolled into the ditch and Boyd was later found dead inside.

Several contributing factors

According to the coroner's inquiry report, a number of factors contributed to the accident.

"As far as could be determined, Ms. Boyd had not slept in the 24 hours preceding the incident and she was not familiar with the ETV she chose to drive," the report states.

Boyd was also impaired. According to the coroner, Boyd had texted someone at 2:45 a.m. saying she "had been drinking and could not drive." Toxicology results later found her blood alcohol content was 0.17 per cent, more than twice the legal limit.

The coroner's report says records show Boyd was using her cellphone moments before the accident. She was also not wearing a seatbelt.

Jones includes several recommendations in her report, such as ensuring that ETVs at government work sites are removed at the end of a shift, and that all other equipment is locked and secured.

She also recommends "renewed public education" around impaired driving, fatigued driving, distracted driving, and seatbelt use.