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Concrete truck driver convicted after high-speed crash kills five

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by Richard Gilbert

A Calgary-area concrete truck driver has been convicted after he rear-ended a car that was waiting at a red light at high speed and killed all five occupants.

Health and Safety

A Calgary-area concrete truck driver has been convicted after he rear-ended a car that was waiting at a red light at high speed and killed all five occupants.

On May 7, provincial court judge Bruce Fraser convicted Daniel Tschetter, 51, on five counts of manslaughter and one count of obstruction of justice, for a deadly crash in December 2007.

Witnesses testified that Tschetter was speeding in his concrete-mixer truck, passing on the shoulder of Highway 2 and driving erratically before the collision.

Fraser said the accused knew he was approaching city limits and an intersection, but yet continued to drive in the same reckless and dangerous manner.

Witnesses didn’t see brake lights, when the truck plowed into the back of a car waiting at a red light at the intersection of 194th Avenue and Macleod Trail S.E.

The car was dragged about 275 metres and ended up lodged under the larger vehicle.

The occupants, a man, his fiancée and three children ages nine, six and sixteen months were killed

The judge accepted evidence that Tschetter could have been driving as fast as 120 km/h at the time of the crash, in a vehicle 10 times the size, strength and weight of the average car.

The court heard that nothing seemed to be going right on the day for Tschetter, who had just left a job pouring a basement in Nanton.

Tschetter testified during the trial that he was in a rush to wash out his truck after the concrete delivery.

He told the court he was distracted by checking on the vehicle’s gauges and was frustrated because his water lines were freezing.

After the collision, Tschetter said he reached under his seat and took a drink of what he thought was water from a bottle, before realizing it was vodka.

He threw the bottle of vodka into the drum of his concrete truck because he didn’t know what to do if people saw him with the container. That lead to his conviction on the obstruction of justice charge.

Tschetter explained that the vodka bottle was in the truck so he could offer drinks to staff at concrete suppliers to get to the front of long lineups.

He also testified during the trial that he was a recovering alcoholic.

Tschetter was employed by C & J Construction and was the only person to ever drive the truck for more than a few hours. After working for the company for about two and a half years, he had logged 70,000 kilometres and 2,300 hours in the truck.

He admitted the truck was his baby and he not only had modified it to work more efficiently, he maintained it and was the only person who carried a set of keys.

Crown prosecutor Jonathan Hak said the sentencing hearing, set for Aug. 5, could be lengthy, as many family members of the victims will want to give impact statements.

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