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Ottawa handling claims after snowplow damages 13 cars

An Ottawa city snowplow driver knew he had hit one car early one morning last month, but was unaware he had struck a dozen others, a city official says.

On Feb. 10, the city employee damaged 13 cars between 1 and 2 a.m., mostly on the city's East Side, according to Ottawa police. There were no injuries or citations.

According to police, the city worker told officers he had no experience driving a snowplow.

In an interview last week, James Less, the city's commissioner of public improvements, said a piece of equipment protruding from the snowplow truck hit the 13 cars. He said the driver noticed he struck one car near shift's end and notified police, Less said.

Meanwhile, after a resident called police about a car being hit, officers noticed other vehicles "with the exact same type of damage," the commissioner said.

Less said the equipment in question "sticks a little bit out from the truck."

"If you get too close, you may not even hear or feel that you've touched another car," Less said.

The employee started in September and had received training from city staff before he got behind the wheel, Less said. He had gone out to clear streets about six or seven times before the night of the damage, the commissioner said.

"The guy is a good guy. He is a hardworking employee. He feels awful about what happened," Less said. "It's extremely unfortunate. We are evaluating our policies and procedures and doing what we can to improve things."

The employee has been pulled from snowplowing duties for the time being, Less said. The commissioner said that if he had caused the damage, he would be afraid to go back to snowplowing for a while.

Now, the city's insurance company is handling the damage claims.

"All the vehicles that were damaged weren't damaged to the point where they weren't driveable," Less said.

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