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Coroner recommends more rumble strips on 99


Coroner Jeannine Robinson is recommending more frequent bus maintenance checks and increased use of rumble strips in two separate reports centred on fatal Hwy. 99 accidents.

The coroner's report into the March 29, 2002 death of Const. Wael Audi, signed by Robinson on March 2, 2005, was released to The Chief late last week.

The report into the Jan. 31, 2004 death of Jasdeep Singh Sandhu was signed by Robinson March 3 of this year and sent to The Chief along with the Audi report.

The coroner made two recommendations following completion of the investigation into the death of Sandhu.

The Transportation Ministry is encouraged to review the circumstances of Sandhu's death with consideration put towards the installation of centre line rumble strips as part of the Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement Project.

Sandhu was traveling back from work in Whistler with four other people in a Pontiac Tempest.

The Tempest hit head-on with a Ford Escape after the Tempest side swiped a Volkswagen GTI.

Seven people died in the accident.

"Based on the evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that driver fatigue and/or momentary inattentiveness may have been a contributory factor in this collision," said the coroner's report.

Since the accident, the Ministry of Transportation announced a new policy. Centerline rumble strips are to be installed in no-passing zones on undivided highways.

Robinson also recommended that ICBC continue its efforts in educating drivers about the dangers of lack of sleep and fatigue when operating a vehicle.

A copy of the coroner's report was sent to ICBC's head office in North Vancouver.

Audi, 29 at the time of his death, was killed when a bus slammed into his unmarked police car. Audi was patrolling Hwy. 99 in a green 2000 Chevrolet Impala. Audi was traveling southbound. Investigators believe Audi detected a northbound speeding vehicle. Audi turned on his emergency light bar and strobe lights to initiate a change in direction.The Impala blocked the southbound lane. It is believed Audi was waiting for northbound traffic to clear before Audi completed his turn.

A limousine driver following Audi noticed the emergency lights and slowed to a near stop.

Passengers on the bus reported the driver was pumping the brakes on the bus in an attempt to stop. He was swearing and the passengers felt only a slight sensation of the bus slowing.

The coroner found that the bus driver decided to pull into the northbound lane to avoid crashing into the limousine and Audi's car.The bus crashed into the driver's side of Audi's car as the RCMP member tried to complete his turn.

The coroner service reported an inspection of the brakes on the bus found the brakes were overheated on a previous occasion. The overheating caused warping of the brake drums and that reduced the surface contact of the brakes. The bus company was found guilty of failing to maintain the brakes and paid a fine.

The coroner recommends all commercial passenger buses in B.C. be inspected semi-annually. The recommendation was sent to Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon.

The coroner made a second recommendation to Perimeter Transportation. It is suggested the company follow the service schedule outlined by bus manufacturer MCI in the company's service procedure manual for bus maintenance.

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