KELOWNA, BC – A crane collapse on a construction site in British Columbia killed four workers and a man was searched for Tuesday under the rubble of an adjacent building, according to RCMP.
Insp. Adam MacIntosh said at a press conference that the slain men were working on the Kamloops site on Monday when the top of the crane fell from above the 25-story residential tower and crashed into a neighboring building.
The missing man, who is believed to be dead, worked in that building and police were hoping to recover his body later Tuesday, MacIntosh said.
Another man who was taken to hospital for treatment for non-life-threatening injuries has since been released, he said.
The Mounties are working with BC Coroners Service, BC Occupational Safety and Health Agency, WorkSafeBC, the local fire department and engineers to determine what will be required to safely secure parts of the crane to recover the man’s body, he said.
Until then, a local emergency ordinance will prevent anyone from entering the area.
The building next door housed some kind of consulting firm, MacIntosh said.
He didn’t want to speculate about the cause of the collapse, but said the workers were in the process of dismantling or dismantling the crane.
“Why exactly this crane collapsed is part of the investigation,” he said.
“Obviously something catastrophic happened.”
The RCMP are investigating to make sure the breakdown was not criminal, and an investigation by WorkSafeBC will also determine what happened, he said.
One person who died was rushed to the hospital while the others died on the scene, MacIntosh said. The crane operator should be among the dead, he said.
“Some of them were physically on or around the crane when it collapsed.”
The collapse disrupted most of downtown Kelowna and resulted in an evacuation warrant for surrounding homes and businesses. Some people were evicted from a retirement home on Tuesday, MacIntosh said.
The head of Mission Group, the development company that is building the residential tower, said Monday that he did not know what caused the crane crash.
Jonathan Friesen said the company’s employees and subtrades were in shock and offered grief counseling to anyone who needed them.
The website of Stemmer Construction, based in Salmon Arm, BC, lists the tower in Kelowna as one of their current projects.
A call to Stemmer’s office as to whether employees were affected by the collapse went unanswered on Tuesday afternoon.
Calling the collapse tragic, Prime Minister John Horgan said it was “an event that, frankly, is not expected to happen on a sunny July day here in British Columbia”.
“But it can happen,” he said at a press conference. “We need to redouble our work safety efforts, and whatever results WorkSafe or the coroner comes up with will certainly be implemented across the province.”
A Twitter post by Prime Minister Justice Trudeau on Tuesday read: “My heart is in Kelowna today with the families, friends and colleagues of the workers who have lost their lives.”
A candlelight vigil is planned for Friday at 9 p.m. near the site of the crane’s collapse. The aim is to gather as close to the site as possible, say the organizers, but the exact location has yet to be determined.
– From Brenna Owen in Vancouver; with files from Alistair Waters in Kelowna, BC
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 13, 2021.