News

A close up look at a tragedy

The force of the crash that killed 59-year-old Jim (D.K.) Neiss of Surrey shoved the steering wheel of his Ford Explorer all the way from the driver's side into the front passenger seat,jamming it against the door.

The Sterling dump truck that hit the Neiss vehicle compressed the front section of the Explorer into less than half its normal width.

The bigger truck, which was towing a "pup" trailer behind it, was virtually unscathed aside from some damaged bodywork and a crumpled front fender.

The crash set off the steering wheel air bag of the Explorer, which dangled loose inside the wrecked Explorer as newspaper photographers and television cameramen took pictures Wednesday afternoon in the lot of a Langley towing company where the two vehicles were stored.

Neiss, a bus driver employed by the Langley school district, was hit head-on after the dump truck crossed over a double yellow line to pass a small white car in the 19800 block of 16 Avenue in Langley around 5:37 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Eyewitnesses have told investigators the truck was weaving in and out of traffic in an aggressive manner before impact.

"This person [Neiss] had absolutely no chance," said an indignant RCMP Supt. Norm Gaumont, who is responsible for Traffic Services in Metro Vancouver.

"This person was minding his business on his side of the road."

Gaumont called the crash one of the worst collisions he's ever seen and made a public appeal against aggressive driving.

"It's simple," Gaumont told reporters.

"Relax. Take your time and everyone will get home safely."

After being checked out by paramedics at the scene, the dump truck driver, a 62-year-old Burnaby man, was released without going to hospital.

The driver will likely face charges under provincial traffic regulations and the Canadian Criminal Code once the investigation of the accident is completed, police said.

Langley RCMP Traffic Section Cpl. Patrick Davies, the lead investigator in the crash, said police want to speak to the driver of a white car, possibly a Honda or Nissan, that was passed by the dump truck and the driver of another small white car that was passed near 248 Street and 16 Avenue shortly before the crash.

The dump truck was traveling from the Abbotsford area at the time of the crash, Davies said.

Neiss started working in the Langley school district transportation department in 2003 as a bus driver.

He was on his way to work the morning of the crash.

District communications manager Craig Spence said counseling will be available to the students Neiss drove to school and to his co-workers.

On behalf of the district, Spence offered condolences to Neiss's wife, family and friends.

"He will be missed and remembered," Spence said.

"It's a tragic day when something like this takes place."

There is no evidence that there was a sudden mechanical failure on either vehicle, police said, and alcohol or drugs are not believed to be a factor.

Mechanical inspections have been completed on both trucks and the crash scene has been examined by

ICARS (Integrated Collision Analyst and Reconstruction Service).

Any witnesses to the collision who have not already spoken to investigators are asked to contact the Langley RCMP traffic section at 604-532-3200.

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