Alcohol and speed are believed to have been factors when a vehicle hit two members of a paving crew, killing one, in a construction zone south of Nanaimo just before midnight Thursday.
One died at the scene, near Kipp Road and the Trans-Canada Highway, near the Duke Point Highway, and the other was transported to hospital with serious injuries.
The person who died was working for Hub City Paving, while the flagger is with JSK Traffic Control Services.
Hub City Paving said in a statement that it’s “in shock” and concerned about the worker’s family and friends, adding it’s providing access to support and counselling through its employee and family assistance program. The company is co-operating with authorities on the investigation, it said.
The flagger, a woman in her late 30s, is now out of hospital, said JSK Traffic Control Services president Remon Hanna.
“She’s home recovering, as much as you can recover under the circumstances,” he said. “Our person is going to be OK, but there’s somebody that lost their life.
“It’s really tragic. This is a human being with a family that’s not going to be able to go back to their family.”
Hanna said incidents involving roadside workers “happen way too much.”
“This one out of all of them could have been really very easily prevented,” he said, referring to allegations of high speed and intoxication.
The driver of the car was detained for questioning by police. She gave a pair of breath samples and has since been released.
Const. Gary O’Brien said the woman has been handed a 90-day driving prohibition as the investigation continues.
Hanna said work at the site is on hold for “the foreseeable future, until they investigate this and see how to make it better — what corrective action can we take.”
Police said the highway was closed in both directions after the crash and traffic was rerouted. The highway reopened at 7 a.m. Friday.
A spokeswoman for a provincial safety organization that provides traffic-control training said roadside workers face “significant risk” when they are on the job.
“They’re working next to moving traffic, and things like distracted drivers, speed, environmental conditions and potentially impaired drivers have an impact,” said Teresa Holloran, quality-assurance specialist for the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance’s Traffic Control Program. “Unfortunately we do hear about it and we continually encourage people to slow down anytime they’re on the road.
“It’s always tragic when we hear of these kinds of things because everybody should go home safely at the end of their shift.”
The B.C. Coroners Service has been advised about the incident.