An investigation is underway to determine the cause of an incident last Tuesday on Highway 16 northwest of Houston that took the life Bandstra Transportation Systems truck driver Peter Huisman, who was 52.
It is the first fatality in the company’s history according to Bandstra Transportation’s Phil Bandstra, who went to high school in Smithers with Huisman. He said half a dozen employees were family members of Huisman’s.
Since news of the incident got out, Bandstra said customers have been reaching out to see if they could offer anything and to attend the funeral.
He said it was Huisman’s drive to put everything into what he did that got him a memorable reputation.
“Pete lived and breathed Bandstra. As a truck driver he put in an awful lot of long hours. He worked with us for 30 years, but always the image that he portrayed was critical,” said Bandstra, visibly shooken up at his Smithers office.
“And not just his image but the company’s image. He wanted the fleet to be clean; if a truck had broken down on the side of the road, he was involved: ‘let’s get that truck off the road, back into the yard, keep our reputation up.’ He was always concerned about reputation.”
There was one other thing that brought pride into Huisman’s life.
“That and being involved in his boys’ life were the two things that mattered most to him,” said Bandstra.
Bandstra said the company was putting anyone who needed help at such a traumatizing time in touch with the appropriate professionals, plus they were reaching out to those who they thought might be affected and be able to use the help.
“Pete was a part of our family,” said Bandstra.
Because Huisman drove across provincial borders, the federal government is investigating. The Interior News was unable to obtain a timeline for the results.
A Prince George RCMP media spokesperson said WorkSafe BC is in charge, which is not true according to a WorkSafe BC spokesperson as the driver drove across provincial boundaries.
Houston RCMP is not a part of the investigation, according to Sgt. Jason Burndred.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure have not answered questions about the investigation or confirmed the incident as of Wednesday afternoon. A ministry spokesperson did say via email Wednesday they would have answers confirming time and place of incident, and status of investigation soon.
Bandstra said he was to meet with investigators Monday and assured that he and everyone else would be as open and helpful as possible to find out what happened.
Just last year, the Trucking Safety Council of B.C. awarded Bandstra Transportation with their Certificate of Recognition for exceeding health and safety management system regulatory requirements.
Bandstra said whatever is found to have happened, the company will go over safety again and the specific details with its regular safety meetings.
“That’ll come over the next week or two,” he said.
The following is the memo sent out to employees to explain what happened:
“It is with tremendous shock and sorrow that we have to advise all that the Huisman family and Bandstra Group suffered a terrific loss on Tuesday, July 10. Pete Huisman, one of our long-term employees was going about his daily duties as he has done to near perfection for over 30 years when something went horribly wrong and a serious accident occurred. The accident is still under investigation at this point, but Pete was seriously injured while on the road and passed away on the way to the hospital in Smithers.
“We want to express our deepest condolences to Pete’s family, several of them who currently work for Bandstra Transportation in various locations. Pete was more than just an employee, he was what Bandstra is and we can’t fathom how deep a hole this horrific accident leaves in our hearts. We ask that all of us keep Pete’s family in our prayers and thoughts as we try to process this tragedy. We just as all to please treat this accident with the respect that Pete deserves.”