A B.C. Supreme Court Justice has ruled the drivers were equally at fault in a winter 2010 head-on collision west of Prince George that left one of them severely injured.
In reaching the decision, Justice Peter Willcocks agreed with a reconstruction expert's conclusion that the tractor and trailer driven by Robert Wallace Spiers and the pickup truck driven by William John Hogstead were both over the centreline when they struck each other on Jan. 6, 2010 on Highway 16 near Isle Pierre Road, about 40 kilometres west of Prince George.
Hogstead, who had been traveling home to Endako following an appointment at Prince George Regional Hospital, suffered a brain injury and consequently is unable to manage his financial affair and requires the assistance of a committee.
The reconstruction expert that Willcocks agreed with had been hired by the plaintiff acting on Hogstead's behalf. Another expert had concluded the contact may have occurred entirely in Spiers' lane. Much of the case hinged on their interpretations of a crescent-shaped gouge found on the centreline at the collision scene.
Also at question was whether Spiers had passed a slower vehicle in a non-passing area just prior to the collision but Willcocks concluded that action actually occurred in a passing area at Tamarac Lake and some kilometres before the collision .
And there was concern Hogstead may have been unfit to get behind the wheel because a dose of Ativan had been administered to him intravenously about five hours before when he complained of chest pain at the hospital.
He slept for some time and about two hours after receiving the medication, said he felt much better and was discharged. Hospital records included a note saying he should not drive and it was unclear if he was warned.
But Willcocks also noted a physician who testified he "did not specifically say what impairment might have been expected" five hours after the injection and on the evidence could not find that the medication affected Hogstead's driving.
Spiers had been returning home from a trip out to Terrace when the collision occurred at about 7:15 p.m., when it was dark out, and he acknowledged during cross-examination that he was tired and had been working long days.
The collision occurred in mid-winter but Willcocks found weather was not a factor. He also found the stretch was well-travelled and familiar to both drivers and that Spiers knew the lights at the intersection of Highway 16 and Isle Pierre Road could "cause some difficulty making out the presence of approaching vehicles at night."
Willcocks issued his decision following a seven-day trial in Vancouver. Total damages are still to be determined.