Public works truck demolished in accident
“I didn’t even have time to honk to let him know I was coming”
One minute, Newk Sagiaktok was driving a brand-new city pickup truck back to the municipal auto shop after a nice, comforting coffee break.
The next minute, the 52-year-old mechanic was in a ditch along Federal Road, crawling through broken glass and diesel fuel, screaming from the pain in his leg.
Then, several minutes later, another city truck drove by an emergency crew tending to Sagiaktok and his passenger, Imoona Atagoyuk, and threw sand down on the sheer ice covering the road.
The latest accident in the city’s growing list of road troubles has been chalked up to bad timing, poor judgment, and a messy mix of ice and snow.
However, before press-time, police were still investigating what brought two trucks crashing together mid-morning on Oct. 24, and investigators had not ruled out pressing charges.
Lead investigating officer Const. Yvonne Niego said speed and road conditions were the main factors in the collision.
According to witnesses, Sagiaktok was driving westbound past KRT Electrical when another pickup truck was pulling out of the company’s parking lot. Sagiaktok swerved, but caught the tailgate of the KRT truck and started spinning down the road. His truck came to the road’s edge and started rolling over before taking a nosedive into the North 40 creek. The impact cracked open a diesel tank in the back of the truck.
“You didn’t have the time to think,” Sagiaktok said in an interview from his home several days later. “I didn’t even have time to honk to let him know I was coming.”
Both Sagiaktok and his passenger were taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries, and given the next week off to recover. The driver of the KRT truck was not injured.
“It was a flukey accident,” said Dave Angrove, Sagiaktok’s foreman. “We don’t begrudge anyone for it.”
Drivers who saw the aftermath of the crash said the accident was typical for this time of year. Citing a similar accident the week before on Ring Road, one taxi driver speculated that if the city had sanded the road sooner, the accident wouldn’t have happened.
“Somebody has to die before they do something,” Giuseppe DeFabritiis said of road maintenance in Iqaluit. “After the accident, they sand the road – never before, always after.”
Iqaluit’s roads foreman, Paul Barrieau, defended the works department, saying the roads were serviced on schedule on the day of the accident, and the road sander’s arrival after the collision was a coincidence.