Flag person killed on Sask. highway was pregnant
New Brunswick woman had just moved out west
The flag person who was killed working on a road construction site near Midale, Sask., was pregnant, her fiancé says.
Ashley Dawn Richards, 18, had recently moved to Saskatchewan from Lakeside, N.B., to start a family with Ben Diprose.
Richards was struck by a vehicle that drove through the construction site.
Diprose was working nearby with a paving crew and saw her get hit.
"It wasn't fair," Diprose said. "She already had a hard enough life."
Diprose described her as a sweet, beautiful girl. "When she found out she was pregnant, she was the happiest girl in the world," he said.
The two had been childhood friends. He watched her move from foster home to foster home as they grew up before they reconnected later in life. They moved to Saskatchewan to make a fresh start with their new family.
He said Richards could not even afford the construction boots she needed for the job, so he sold his car stereo to buy her a pink pair. "I'd do it over and over again, because she meant the world to me."
Hit from behind
Diprose said he was working on a transport truck carrying asphalt and passed her frequently.
"Every time I passed her, she was hollering to me, 'I love you.' She'd jump up on the side of the truck and give me a hug and a kiss every time it was stopped," he said.
She was just 45 minutes into her first shift when the incident happened.
Diprose was down the road when he saw the SUV heading toward her. Richards didn't see the vehicle. "I was screaming through the CB for her to stop and turn around," he said. "She had her back to traffic because she was waving the other cars through."
He said the SUV struck her from behind and sent her flying. He ran to her side. "I started screaming and praying to God to take me. It wasn't fair — she was supposed to be a mom," he said. "She was bleeding to death in my arms and there was nothing I could do."
Diprose held her as he died. "She told me she loved me. She told me never to take her back home. I said, 'Ashley, it's going to be alright.' She said, 'Don't bury me back home,'" he said. "I'll never be the same. That was the one girl I gave everything up for. It didn't matter what it was, how big or how small, I was willing to do it."
Diprose said he wants to become an advocate for tougher penalties for drivers who endanger lives in road construction zones.
According to Saskatchewan government officials, Richards was an employee of a contractor doing work on the highway.
She had taken a training course on being a flag person and also had some supervised training on the jobsite.
The incident happened Aug. 24 on Highway 39 around 5:30 p.m. CST.
The work area was about eight kilometres northwest of Midale. According to police, a sports utility vehicle entered the construction zone and struck Richards.
The driver of the SUV was a 44-year-old man. He was arrested at the scene and taken into custody and released on Saturday. Police said charges are pending.