As Canadian safety investigators probe causes of a July 12 tower crane collapse at a 25-story condominium building under construction in Kelowna, B.C., east of Vancouver, which killed four site workers, ENR has confirmed that a fifth person found later in rubble of an adjacent structure hit by the equipment worked for an engineering consulting firm with offices in the damaged building.
Police and provincial authorities have declined to name the victims of the accident, although they were identified in local media and GoFundMe pages.
The latest fatality identified in a July 16 GoFundMe post is Brad Zawislak, described on his LinkedIn page as a civil engineering technologist employed by Protech Consulting 2012 Ltd. since 2014.
A spokeswoman at TT Contractors—a Kelowna utility contractor that had worked with Protech, described as a multidisciplined design firm, and with Zawislak—confirmed his death to ENR. TT Contractors was among those posting tributes on his GoFundMe page. She said his firm had not been involved with the 178-unit Brooklyn at Bernard Block residential project. Zawislak's previous work experience includes employment as a project foreman and equipment operator.
Also confirmed on a GoFundMe page to have died are brothers Eric Stemmer, superintendent at Stemmer Construction, and Patrick Stemmer, a crane operator, whose family owns the company. The contractor, based in Salmon Arm, B.C., had listed the building on its website as a current project.
The Stemmer website now posts this message: "We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred on the Brooklyn Tower Project. We would like to request everyone to allow us to mourn those that were impacted in private. We make this appeal for privacy also on behalf of those close to us, who wish to remember those involved and celebrate their lives. We are committed to working with all involved to work through the investigative process."
The collapse, one of the deadliest such accidents in North America in recent history, occurred during crane dismantling, but neither the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) nor Mission Group, the local developer of the building, cited a cause. The firm labeled the collapse of the crane, described as a Liebherr model, as "a catastrophic failure." It said about 100 people were on site at the time.
Crews on July 19 began the lift of the crane counterweight, one of the last pieces of the damaged machine to be removed from the site, according to a local Kelowna media post. A spokesperson for the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre did not note how long the operation would take, with power around the collapse site out until a reassessment after removal is complete.
Brooklyn was originally set to be occupied in early 2021, but no new opening date has been released. Mission Group, which does both development and construction, began work on the tower in 2019.
Operating Engineers union Local 115 in Kamloops, B.C., wants reformed crane assembly and dismantling requirements in the province in the wake of the collapse.
Police and emergency crews ordered the evacuation of the area around the construction site in downtown Kelowna, in effect until the crane, a Liebherr model, has been completely dismantled, said RCMP Inspector Adam MacIntosh.
WorkSafeBC, the provincial work safety regulator, as well as the BC Coroners Service and the Kelowna RCMP have launched “concurrent investigations” into the tragedy, officials said in a press statement.
Related to other crane collapses with multiple fatalities, an accident at a new Google Seattle campus in April, 2019, killed two ironworkers and one person driving by the construction site. An investigation later concluded that during the dismantling of the crane, bolts and pins were removed too early, with high winds also contributing to the disaster.
Seven people died and 24 were injured in 2008 in Manhattan when a 22-story crane, attached to an apartment tower under construction, broke free, raining destruction across a nearby city block. Workers had been attempting to raise the height of the crane as work on the tower advanced above the 19th floor. The project's master rigger was later acquitted of charges he caused the accident.