Boys will be boys

In the early 60’s I was assigned to investigate the death of an eight year old boy who was hit and killed on a rural road in south west Manitoba. The site of the accident was a section of paved road that ran north to south in rural farmland. The road was straight and level for about a mile and lay between two small hills. The hills gave a driver an excellent view of the flat section no matter if it was approached from the north or the south.

On the sunny summer day of the accident two school chums were walking north on the west side of the road. A golf course was situated to the west of the road and the boys were searching for golf ball that fell in the wide ditch that lay between the golf course and the highway.

As usual their search was successful and they each had two or three golf balls in their pockets. Their search led them in a zig zag pattern along the flat wide ditch. At the time the accident occurred they had moved up onto the gravel shoulder of the highway. As boys do, they were pushing a shoving each other as they walked along what was normally a very deserted highway with very little traffic.

The boy closest to the pavement shoved his classmate towards the ditch. When his friend tried to shove him back, he took a step backwards onto the pavement at the exact moment a car was passing by at highway speed.
The car struck the boy and killed him instantly. The two boys were with in arms reach of each other when the accident occurred.

The driver of the car had his wife and two children in the car with him. He was returning home from a trip to Winnipeg. None of them were injured. I arrived at the scene the day following the accident and interviewed the surviving school boy and then the driver of the car.

The scene of the accident was unusual as it was a flat and level stretch of highway in a very rural area with nothing but cow pastures on one side and a golf course on the other. When traveling south, the view from the north hill allowed one to have an excellent view of the mile of highway that lay ahead. It would have been possible to see the two boys on the side of the road from at least a half mile away.

When I interviewed the surviving boy in the presence of his mother he was still in a shocked condition. He had a tendency to stare off into the distance while talking, as if he was reliving the accident, over and over again. He had a clear memory of what occurred and obviously felt responsible for the accident as his friend had jumped backwards, while trying to avoid getting shoved by him. They had been walking for over an hour and no other vehicle had passed them. They failed to see the approaching car because they were searching for golf balls and were distracted.

The worst part of the experience for the surviving boy was not only seeing his school chum hit by the car but the force of the impact was so sever the boys spleen was torn from his side. The dead boy was sent flying down the road ahead of the car and left a bloody trail as he bounced two or three time on the pavement before coming to a halt. He was killed instantly. The witness ended up in shock and almost paralyzed by fear as he stood frozen to the spot.

The investigation determined that the driver had a perfect view of the highway and boys ahead of him and failed to slow down or even move onto the opposite side of the road. It is important to note that visibility was unobstructed between the two hills so the driver could see no other traffic was approaching or following him.

While it was confirmed the boy had stepped backwards into the path of the car, it was also determined that the accident could have been avoided had the driver simply slowed down and or moved over. He was never charged but realized he could have avoided the accident had he been more alert.

2 thoughts on “Boys will be boys

  1. There should have been some sort of consequences for the driver considering the circumstances of a wide open road ahead. He was obviously distracted, (and not by a cell phone!) and not paying proper attention to the road. Even if it had been a crow on the road ahead, he would have been able to see it far in advance. Such a terribly sad ending. I feel so sorry for the deceased child as well as the living child and the children in the car that had to go through life with this memory. And I feel sorry for you, the investigator, for having to go to the scene. I guess someone has to have that job, but doesn’t sound like a good job to me.


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