GRANVILLE — The truck crash that closed part of Route 22 on Monday afternoon occurred when a truck driver hauling a load of logs fell asleep and went off the road, police said.
The driver, Eric Girouard, 36, of Victoriaville, Quebec, suffered arm injuries that were not considered life-threatening, according to State Police.
Police said he was driving a 2012 Volvo tractor-trailer north near Andrews Lane when he went off the right side of the road, then overcorrected as he tried to get back on the pavement, causing the truck to turn over and spill its cargo.
It took about four hours for the crash scene to be cleaned up.
Girouard told troopers he fell asleep. He was taken to Glens Falls Hospital, and his condition was not available Tuesday morning.
The investigation was ongoing Tuesday and traffic tickets were expected to be issued, according to State Police.
A Canadian truck driver has been charged with multiple felonies in connection to a fatal crash between a semi-truck and a minivan on Interstate 15 on April 15.
The crash occurred shortly after 10 p.m., just south of the Great Falls International Airport.
Court charging documents state that Jaroglav Kleberc, a Canadian citizen, has been detained by local authorities in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston, and charged with negligent homicide, tampering with evidence and failure to remain at the scene of an accident in connection with the death of Marvin Knutson.
Knutson, 72, was a resident of Swift Current, Saskatchewan. According to court documents, Knutson was driving north on I-15 when the 1997 Dodge Caravan he was driving struck a semi-truck trailer loaded with lumber south of Great Falls. The truck, allegedly driven by Kleberc, had illegally turned onto an emergency-vehicle-only crossing point connecting the southbound and northbound lanes of traffic.
Highway patrol reports state that the driver of the semi was headed south and was attempting to reverse his direction of travel by using the emergency crossing lane. Making the turn left, the bulk of his truck’s loaded trailer extended out into the interstate behind him, blocking or partially blocking both northbound lanes of I-15. Knutson, driving north in the nighttime hours, attempted to avoid the obstruction, but clipped the right-rear side of the semi’s loaded trailer. Knutson died of his injuries at the scene of the collision.
According to witness statements, after the crash, the driver of the semi pulled into a nearby weigh station, got out of his vehicle, checked his load of lumber and left before law enforcement authorities arrived.
Highway patrol investigators subsequently alerted the public and regional law enforcement authorities to be looking for a semi-truck loaded with two-by-four lumber with damage on the right side of its trailer.
“Troopers were able to track the defendant (Kleberc) to Armington Junction (east of Great Falls) at approximately 23:01 hours,” a court affidavit states. “The driver of the semi stopped in Hardin, MT to request assistance re-shifting his load. He was directed to some local farmers who assisted him. They observed red paint transfer and damages on the side of the trailer. The driver of the semi told them that he had ‘hit a deer.’”
Highway Patrol investigators determined that an Edmonton lumber company, Millar Western, had loaded a trailer matching the wanted semi-truck’s description two days before the crash. According to court documents, Kleberc stopped to have his trailer repaired at some point en route to Texas, then delivered his load in Katy on April 18, where he was apprehended by local authorities.
Cascade County Deputy Attorney Josh Racki said Kleberc has waived any objections to extradition from Texas back to Montana. Kleberc is expected to be returned to Cascade County within the next week, where he will be charged negligent homicide, tampering with evidence and failure to remain at an accident scene.
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