By Kristian Rasmussen
Four charges of dangerous driving causing death were levelled against a Vancouver man in Invermere Provincial Court on Monday, January 14th.
Although neither he nor his lawyer was in attendance for his first scheduled appearance, Jaswinder Singh Bagri, 41, faces charges in connection with a July 22nd, 2011, collision between his unloaded flat-deck B-train tractor trailer and a Dodge camper van driven by a vacationing family of four from Palo Alto, California.
While travelling southbound on Highway 93 near Olive Lake in Kootenay National Park that afternoon, Mr. Bagri’s flat deck trailer crossed the center line and jack-knifed directly into the path of the northbound family’s vehicle.
The tractor trailer smashed into the camper and the Suzuki SUV it was towing, pinning the vehicles against highway barrier, which ignited all three vehicles in flames and trapped all four family members inside.
Robert Howard, 48, his wife Ana-Maria Dias, 50, and their two daughters Veronica, 9, and Samantha, 11, perished in the blaze.
Columbia Valley RCMP Staff Sergeant Marko Shehovac was on scene for the aftermath of the crash.
“We do go to a lot of accidents, but it is not very often that we go to an accident where a whole family is killed,” he added. “I think these are appropriate charges given the investigation.”
Although Mr. Bagri was not in court for his first scheduled appearance, Judge Ron Webb issued a bench warrant for him, requiring he or his lawyer to appear at his next court date on February 12th in Invermere Provincial Court.