Nova Scotia

Community rallies around traffic worker attacked in Dartmouth

Donations have poured in to help a traffic control worker in Dartmouth, N.S., who was attacked on the job last week. More than $1,000 has been raised for the man who is currently homeless.

More than $1K has been raised for the worker, who is looking for a safe place to live

A traffic worker, right, was attacked in Dartmouth while on the job Sept. 21, and video of the incident was posted to Twitter. (Tina Capalbo/Twitter)

Donations have poured in to help a traffic control worker in Dartmouth, N.S., who was attacked on the job last week.

Tina Capalbo was working in her apartment last Tuesday morning when she heard the squeal of tires and yelling outside on Renfrew Street.

She filmed the incident on her phone, watching as a truck driver jumped out and started running toward the traffic control worker in an orange vest and hard hat. 

Video shows the driver tackled the worker to the ground and the two men wrestled for a few minutes, before the driver eventually went back to his truck and drove away.

Capalbo and a few other neighbours went over to speak with the 24-year-old worker, who she said was shaken up by the encounter.

"He was in shock. He'd been attacked. He had this guy threatening to blind him," Capalbo said, adding the worker also told them he was currently homeless and living in a tent.

The worker was identified to CBC News only as "Nathan." As of Tuesday evening, CBC did not receive a reply to an interview request.

Tina Capalbo of Dartmouth, N.S., caught the assault on video, in the hopes it could help as evidence in a court case. (Tina Capalbo)

The worker told her bits and pieces of what happened, Capalbo said, like how he tried to do his job and stop the truck to ask whether the driver lived on that street. The road was blocked off further down, due to an ongoing construction project, she said.

The truck blew by the worker, one of the mirrors clipping him on the shoulder, Capalbo said. He then started calling out the truck's licence plate as it drove away, which the worker assumes was what set off the driver's anger.

But his mind also jumped around to previous violent episodes he'd been in or witnessed, Capalbo said.

The worker told Capalbo he felt paranoid, wondering whether he was "the kind of person who's always going to ... have these things happen" to him.

"That's just kind of sad," Capalbo said.

No charges laid

Police arrived and spoke with the worker. Capalbo said she shared the video with the officer, who said it was strong evidence, but the case would likely not go ahead unless the worker wanted to move forward and he had declined to do so.  

Halifax police spokesperson Const. John MacLeod confirmed they responded to a report of a physical altercation, involving a motorist and a road construction worker, in the 500 block of Renfrew Street around 10:30 a.m. last Tuesday.

MacLeod said the case has been closed without any charges, but if any new information comes to light or witnesses want to speak with police then an investigation would be reopened.

Capalbo posted the video of the attack to Twitter, in the hopes that her neighbours would be able to avoid the man and his truck, and the driver gets a "reality check" that his behaviour is unacceptable.

But there's also been an outpouring of support, which Capalbo said she didn't expect.

People have suggested resources on where the worker can access free counselling, and a fundraiser has also brought in $1,000 to help the worker get his own place.

Kevin Lepage has so far raised $1,000 for the traffic worker, who is currently living in a tent. (Fran Thorne)

"He seems like a really good guy. He's just not had a fair shake at all in life," Capalbo said.

Kevin Lepage set up the fundraiser, and said the video hit close to home as he was a road worker more than 20 years ago.

As someone who used to go through life with a lot of anger and aggression, Lepage said he can imagine being in the driver's shoes and hopes this is his wakeup call to change.

"It's all about community and ... help people become better than they were yesterday," Lepage said. "We don't want to be fighting each other."

Lepage has texted back and forth with the worker, who was "over the moon" about the support.

"He was so excited and he couldn't believe that people would try to help him," Lepage said.