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Owner of Calgary-based trucking company involved in Humboldt bus crash charged

EDMONTON — The owner of an Alberta trucking company involved in the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash has been charged.

Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason said Wednesday that Sukhmander Singh of Adesh Deol Trucking faces charges of non-compliance with various federal and provincial safety regulations.

“The charges follow an investigation that was completed by Alberta Transportation into the collision,” Mason said. “The investigation found multiple instances of non-compliance of various transportation regulatory requirements in a six-month period.”

Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured in rural Saskatchewan six months ago when their bus was involved in a crash with a semi-truck owned by the Calgary-based company.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who was driving the semi unit, was charged earlier this year with dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Officials with Alberta Transportation said eight charges have now been laid against the trucking company owner.

They include seven federal charges: two counts of failing to maintain logs for drivers hours of service, three counts of failing to monitor the compliance of a driver under safety regulations, and two counts of having more than one daily log for any day. The eighth charge under provincial regulations alleges failure to have or follow a written safety program.

When reached in Calgary, Singh said he didn’t have any comment.

A department spokesman said a federal Crown lawyer will be handling the prosecution on the charges against the owner.

Singh’s first court appearance is Nov. 9 in Calgary.

The maximum penalty for a federal hours of service failing is $5,000 per offence, while the provincial charge carries a $310 penalty. A court can, however, use discretion to impose a penalty up to $2,000.

Alberta Transportation said Adesh Deol Trucking remains suspended.

Myles Shumlanski, whose son Nick was injured in the crash, was pleased to hear about the charges.

“It’s a good start,” he said. “Some of the people who did the charging need to look at that, too, because why did it get to that point? It’s still happening.”

Shumlanski said governments across the country need to look at why licences are being handed out so easily.

Mason, citing the Broncos crash as the reason, said the province is making driver training for new commercial truckers and bus drivers mandatory,

“That incident prompted jurisdictions across Canada to take a closer look at their safety practices,” he said. “Alberta Transportation was already in the process of considering several improvements to traffic safety in our province.”

The province said the training, which will include a standardized curriculum, will be mandatory as of March 1.

“New requirements for trucking companies based in Alberta will enhance safety on the roads right across the continent,” Mason said.

He said the province will eliminate a temporary safety fitness certificate and require all new commercial carriers to prove compliance with transportation safety regulations before they start operating. They will also be required to renew it every three years.

Earlier this month, Alberta also announced that it will ditch its privatized model for road testing and will administer road exams directly to new drivers.

Officials said testers will be government employees, and there will be more oversight to ensure that road exams are conducted fairly and consistently.