Heed the warnings

Brodie Thomas
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Drivers ignoring Wreckhouse winds

The truck overturned at Wreckhouse on Wednesday night?
“He must’ve came in from the mainland. Wasn’t paying no heed to what was going on. Either that, or somebody thought he had more weight on that he did.”

This truck was blown off the Trans-Canada Highway near Wreckhouse during the night of Feb. 17. Another tractor-trailer blew off between Doyles and South Branch the same night.

That was according to one truck driver who safely made it through Wreckhouse on Thursday morning. He was travelling with two other tractor-trailers around 8:30 a.m. We agreed not to reveal his identity.

Winds at the time were 70, gusting to 100 according to Environment Canada.

We caught up with him at the line-up for the Marine Atlantic ferry, after a long, slow drive from Doyles to Port aux Basques.

The driver and his convoy companions hadn’t heard anything about the driver of the truck that overturned sometime Wednesday night.

Port aux Basques RCMP issued a press release Thursday morning saying two occupants of that truck had to be extracted with help from Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department.

They were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

RCMP Constable Shawn Skinner also said drivers need to start paying attention to the digital signs and media advisories that are issued when winds are high.

Three trucks blew off the Trans Canada Highway in the Wreckhouse area between Feb. 17 and 20.

A flatbed was blown off the road a few kilometers east of Doyles on the evening of Feb. 17, thought it did not overturn. That same night, a truck was blown off near the Wreckhouse parking lot. It didn’t overturn either.

Skinner said these drivers are putting the travelling public and rescue workers in danger by choosing to drive during high winds.

Truckers speak

The first driver we spoke with said he has been driving through Wreckhouse for nearly 20 years.

In this new age of smartphones, he said it is easier than ever to get weather information and decide whether or not a trip is safe to make.

“With smartphones you can go right onto Environment Canada’s website and get right up to date,” he said.

The driver said a truck under 10,000 pounds can’t safely go through Wreckhouse with winds that are over 80 kilometres per hour.

“With a full load, its safe up to 100 (kilometers per hour),” he said.

That driver had a full load Thursday morning, so he decided to go for it.

Another driver who passed through Wreckhouse at the same time said he drove through the night and waited a while at Doyles in the dark.

“When we came in this morning (the wind) was only 64, but it was east straight east,” he said. “There was snow and we didn’t want to go because it could blow our trailer sideways. So we sat and waited until daylight. The wind switched to east-northeast. Which isn’t as bad. Then the plow went by and we decided to go.”

The driver said he’s been running through Wreckhouse for about five years.

“I haven’t knocked one over yet,” he said.

He was traveling empty on Thursday morning.

Trucks arriving at the Marine Atlantic Terminal still had a long wait ahead of them. Marine Atlantic vessels were tied up on Thursday due to high winds.

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Environment Canada, Volunteer Fire Department RCMP Trans Canada Highway

Geographic location: Doyles, Port aux Basques

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