News

Gregory Thomas Howlett killed by rock from a logging truck near Skutz Falls turnoff

This GMC pickup truck was driven by Duncan
This GMC pickup truck was driven by Duncan's Gregory Thomas Howlett who died when the windshield was hit by a brick-size rock tossed by an oncoming logging truck along Highway 18 Wednesday.
— image credit: Lake Cowichan Gazette

Gregory Thomas Howlett, 52, of Duncan has been identified as the person killed Wednesday when his pickup truck's windshield was hit by a rock tossed by a logging rig, near Skutz Falls turnoff along Hwy. 18.

Police are looking for the logging-truck driver whose rig — headed in the opposite direction of Howlett's pickup at around 9:30 a.m. — may have thrown the rock that became a big, deadly bullet.

"The piece of rock that went through his windshield, and hit him, was about the size of a standard building brick," Barbara McLintock of the B.C. Coroners Service said of the tragedy about 500 metres west of Skutz Falls Road.

"This was truly a totally freak accident."

That rock was likely clinging to the load of logs when it shook loose from one of two eastbound rigs, headed toward Duncan on Highway 18, she explained.

Witness reports to the RCMP indicate the deadly rock fell from the first of the two eastbound logging trucks, bounced off the road, then entered the driver's side windshield of Howlett's westbound GMC pickup going toward Lake Cowichan.

Coroner Honey Forbes said Howlett's shocked yet uninjured wife somehow managed to gain control of the pickup after Howlett was hit through the shattered windscreen.

"She did an unbelievable job of gaining control of that vehicle and stopping it."

Lake Cowichan highway was closed for several hours during the fatality attended by Lake Cowichan RCMP and ambulance paramedics.

Howlett was transported to Cowichan District Hospital with serious injuries. He died a short time later.

The logging-truck driver did not stop at the scene. It's likely, police say, that rig's driver was unaware the accident had happened.

Lake Cowichan RCMP, RCMP South Island Traffic Services, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement team were working to confirm the identify of the logging truck, and driver involved.

The identity of the second logging-truck driver was also unknown.

Police are asking for public assistance in identifying the logging truck driver. Call the South Island Traffic Services at 250-416-0352.

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