KELOWNA, BC – A specialized team of Vancouver first responders have arrived in Kelowna, BC to begin work to retrieve the body of a missing man from under the rubble of a building next to a construction site where a crane collapsed, killing four People.
Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services deputy chief David Boone said firefighters, paramedics, police and an engineer are part of the heavy urban rescue team, one of six such teams in Canada.
Boone, who heads the team, said work is expected to begin Wednesday after the site was assessed, the RCMP said a crane fell from a 25-story residential tower under construction and crashed into an adjacent building on Monday .
“We are informed by the first responders who were active on site, we are informed by their engineer and the engineer for the crane, we draw up an action plan and prepare the site for work,” he said late Tuesday.
“In terms of actual activity of any kind, breaking through walls, entering the building, a lot of work has to be done before that happens.”
The missing man, who is believed to be dead, was working in the building next to the construction site and police were hoping to recover his body on Tuesday, RCMP Insp. Adam MacIntosh said at a press conference.
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.
Several dead after crane collapse on construction site in Kelowna
The building next door was home to a consulting firm, MacIntosh said.
He did not 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 wasn’t 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 one would not expect 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 come 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.