Fired for texting behind the wheel, Kelowna bus driver loses application to be reinstated - InfoNews

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Fired for texting behind the wheel, Kelowna bus driver loses application to be reinstated

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
June 15, 2019 - 4:05 PM

KELOWNA - A Kelowna bus driver who was fired for texting while behind the wheel was denied an application to be re-hired early last month.

According to court documents, Tim Wesman, 59, applied to be reinstated as a bus driver after he was fired for texting while driving on Feb. 4, 2019, arguing that the dismissal was excessive. On May 10, Ken Saunders, the arbirtrator in the case, denied Wesman's application.

It's undisputed that Wesman texted while behind the wheel. On Jan. 18, 2019, he was operating a bus on Highway 97 when he picked up a passenger at 4:22 p.m. As he pulled into traffic, Wesman reached for his cell phone. A video recording showed Wesman using his phone for a total of one minute and 14 seconds. For a 30 second period he held the phone in both hands and drove with his wrists.

Another bus operator spotted Wesman texting near Richter Street and reported the incident to the relief supervisor. According to the court document, when asked about the incident, Wesman said, "I honestly don’t recall, I just don’t remember.” Wesman later completed an incident report where he said he believed he touched his phone.

General Manager Colin Whyte obtained the video recording that showed Wesman texting behind the wheel, which he called one of the worst instances of distracted driving involving a phone he'd ever seen. Wesman was dismissed on Feb. 4 for texting and for dishonestly relaying the facts of the incident.

With the Amalgamated Transit Union 1722, Wesman argued his dismissal was an excessive punishment. During the hearing, Wesman admitted to being under a lot of personal stress on the day he texted behind the wheel, which he called a lapse of judgement.

In his decision, Saunders said Wesman's distracted driving, coupled with his lack of forthrightness in the incident report, was serious enough to warrant his dismissal.

Wesman's grievance was denied.

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