BAY, Ont. – April 28 marks National Day of Mourning in Canada, to remember
those who’ve lost their lives on the job. But for Jesse MacDonald, every day is
a day of mourning.
He lost his
brother Ken MacDonald in a truck crash Jan. 9, as he made his nightly run to
Dryden, Ont., for Gardewine, hauling a load of batteries. Jesse MacDonald
remembers the night vividly.
out the door at 9 p.m. It was a Thursday night and Friday morning was payday. He
was happy,” MacDonald told Today’s Trucking in a recent interview. “I
woke up to 20 missed calls and he was gone.”
brothers were close, and even lived together for the last 15 years. “We were
like an old married couple,” Jesse joked.
Both were old-school
truckers, though Jesse MacDonald was off on disability at the time of the tragedy.
He said Ken, who would have turned 50 two-and-a-half-weeks after the crash,
would come home from a shift and voice concern over the deteriorating driving skills
he was seeing on Northern Ontario highways. Twice, he had his driver’s side
mirror sheared from his cab by a truck that crossed into his lane. Jesse
suggested he hang up the keys, but Ken wouldn’t hear of it.
his job,” said Jesse. “Two weeks before this, my dad was trying to talk him out
of it because of the close calls. It was starting to scare my dad.”
to the police report, MacDonald was traveling westbound on Hwy. 11/17 at 10:35
p.m. in his 2014 Peterbilt, when an eastbound 2018 Freightliner “strikes the
guardrail on the eastbound shoulder…then travels across the road and strikes
(MacDonald) in the westbound lane.”
that crossed the lane was driven by Karambir Singh. Both he and his driving
partner Gurpreet Singh perished inside their truck as it burnt to the ground.
Because of the fire, the ECU data was not retrievable from their truck, but
MacDonald’s showed he had slowed to 50 km/h and pulled up against the
guardrail. He was a sitting duck as the Freightliner crossed into his lane.
“My brother drove that highway for 30 years back and forth to Dryden every night – not even a speeding ticket. Killed by two young guys like that.”
Singh was 24 years old, and Gurpreet Singh just 23. Both had an A/Z licence.
But MacDonald feels they lacked the experience necessary to run Northern Ontario’s
winding roads in winter. During the investigation he learned they had just six
months of experience. “Not even a winter under their belt,” he said.
help but feel angry. He shares a newspaper article with the words “Look what
these idiots did to you. Why, why, why, Ken, why?” scrawled across it.
drove that highway for 30 years back and forth to Dryden every night – not even
a speeding ticket. Killed by two young guys like that,” he said. “When I drove,
I drove in town three years before I even got the chance to go on the highway.
The same with my brother. My brother died because of two guys who, as far as I’m
concerned, should never have been on the highway.”
three months after the crash, MacDonald admits he’s still angry. He said it has
nothing to do with the ethnicity of the other drivers, but rather their lack of
experience and a system that would let them run cross-country in winter with so
little experience. He even blames the guardrails, for preventing his brother
from ditching the truck and potentially saving three lives. He has had little
success looking into the backgrounds of the younger drivers. Their truck and
trailer were registered to Toronto-area leasing companies.
set up by their friend Jobanpreet Singh Bhullar has raised more than $37,000 to
help the victims’ parents get their bodies sent back to India. In an interview with
the Brampton Guardian following the crash, Singh Bhullar expressed his
“I tried calling
Karambir, thinking ‘It’s okay, someone used his picture by a mistake,’” Singh
Bhullar told the paper of his reaction on hearing about the crash. “I tried
calling, but when it went to his voicemail, I was a little scared. Then I went
to his home … It’s a big loss for us.”
Today’s Trucking reached out to Singh Bhullar but wasn’t
able to arrange an interview.
MacDonald also set
up a GoFundMe campaign to support Ken’s parents. It has raised $10.
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