Driver may be charged in crash that severed man's leg
Published Monday, January 23, 2012 4:02PM PST
Criminal charges could be laid against the driver of a car that struck a tow-truck driver in Richmond last week, severing the victim's leg and severely damaging the other.
Mounties say they have nearly completed their investigation into the Jan. 15 collision that sent Martin Butthof to hospital in critical condition, and are now waiting for Crown prosecutors to decide if charges will be laid.
"This incident serves as a classic reminder of just how important it is for motorists to slow down and move over when passing emergency and maintenance vehicles," RCMP Cpl. Aaron Sproule said in a release.
"There are laws in place in B.C. requiring us to slow down and move over when passing emergency and maintenance vehicles when their hazard lights are on. Here we have a case where it appears somebody failed to obey that law and as a result we have a tow truck driver in the hospital with serious injuries."
Butthof, 51, was struck after he pulled over to help a man whose vehicle had spun out off the side of Highway 91. He was just in the process of hooking up the damaged vehicle when he was hit and pinned against his tow truck.
"I was just walking back to my truck, and my life changed forever, instantly," Butthof told CTV News on Sunday.
The collision severed one leg from his body and broke the other into about seven pieces, he said. He was set to undergo reconstructive surgery Monday on the remaining leg that will involve replacing a destroyed artery with one from the detached limb.
"I'm still kicking -- well, sort of. I've got one leg to stand on," he said from his hospital bed.
The driver of the car responsible for the crash remained at the scene and spoke with RCMP. Police say that weather and road conditions were poor at the time, but Butthof was operating his amber hazard lights and hazard board. Investigators do not believe the driver was drinking.
The company that Butthof worked for, Rusty's Towing, is taking several new precautions to protect its employees in the wake of the crash, including issuing flares to all drivers.
"A lot of the drivers here are not going to be doing recoveries on the highway until they've got a back-up -- another truck or freeway patrol. It's not worth it," assistant manager Calvin Mitchell said.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger