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RCMP say semi-truck driver crossed centre line in collision that killed Mission father

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RCMP are still investigating a deadly head-on collision between two tractor trailers on Oct. 5 that killed a 41-year-old father of two from Mission.

But police have confirmed Rick Neale – who was driving for Nordic Trucking hauling material between a mine near Williams Lake and the Port of Vancouver – was not at fault for the crash on the Trans Canada Highway near Spences Bridge.

“The northbound tractor trailer where the driver ended up dying as a result of the injuries from the collision, he was in his own lane at the time of the collision," said Insp. Chad Badry of BC Highway Patrol.

"The southbound tractor trailer ended up crossing over the centre line at some point. Why that happened, we are not sure at this point. We have ruled out impairment by drugs or alcohol."

Neale was only behind the wheel as a long-haul trucker because of the writers and actors strike that shut down film production in Metro Vancouver. He’d been working as a Teamster driving large set pieces between film and TV sets for the past eight years. When those jobs dried up, he was hired by Hope-based Nordic Trucking. He was trained alongside his friend and fellow film production truck driver Brandi Mackenzie.

“It was kind of unexpected that Rick was there. I’m like, 'Oh my gosh! I know you! We have worked together forever,'” said Mackenzie. “The two of us were the ones who went and did the orientations together at the mine at one end, and the port at the other end. Really great job, really great opportunity for him to make a bunch of money for his family when he was waiting to go back into film.”

Mackenzie was heartbroken when she learned Neale had been killed on the same route she had been driving. She’s hoping police can determine why the semi-truck driver crossed the centre line.

“I know nothing about the details about the investigation, but he was coming down a hill, he was going around a corner," Mackenzie said. "It was just trajectory and speed and terrible timing.”

Mackenzie says her thoughts are with Neale’s family as they struggle to come to terms with his sudden death, doing a job that was meant to be temporary.

“I just want to hug his wife and his kids. I can’t even imagine what they are going through, because it’s such a huge loss. Not just for us in the trucking industry and those who worked with him and valued him as a friend and family member, but like, literally the world,” said Mackenzie. “He was a good dude. Taken too soon.”

Neale leaves behind his wife Monica, his seven-year-old son Nathan and five-year-old daughter Lexi. Family have started an online fundraiser to help the family move forward. 

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