Brayford Trucking apologizes to family of man killed in northern Alberta workplace accident: ‘We’re so very, very sorry’
A northern Alberta trucking company has been ordered to pay a $100,000 fine as part of its sentence for its involvement in a fatal workplace accident more than three years ago.
In court on Friday, the owners of Brayford Trucking apologized to the family of Jordan Gahan, who was operating an excavator on a work site north of Fort McMurray when he was killed on March 14, 2014.
“There’s no words or actions or anything that can possibly express to you how sorry we are,” Susan Brayford, co-owner of Brayford Trucking, said.
On Friday, Brayford Trucking pleaded guilty to two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including failing to properly train Gahan, and failing to keep him safe as their employee.
An additional three charges were withdrawn.
The prosecution and defence made a joint sentencing submission, proposing to fine Brayford Trucking $100,000, followed by corporate probation for two years. Provincial court judge Harry Van Harten accepted the joint submission Friday afternoon, saying the penalty is reasonable given the circumstances.
The company would also have to write a “public acknowledgment” of what happened, measures taken after the offence and lessons learned.
Court heard Gahan was running the excavator on top of ice, when the ice suddenly broke and the excavator went under four metres of water.
Despite efforts by Gahan’s coworkers to rescue him from the icy water, and performing first aid–he was pronounced dead after being airlifted to hospital in Fort McMurray.
According to an agreed statement of facts read in court, there was testing done in the pit prior to the incident, and the foreman for Brayford Trucking believed there was no water, and that the ice was simply covering the floor of the pit.
Court heard Gahan was not trained to operate the excavator on ice.
“We’re so very, very sorry,” Brayford said, looking at the victim’s family as she addressed the court.
“Sadly, we cannot take away your pain.”
But she was interrupted by an angry outburst by the victim’s father who said, “I apologize to the court but it’s just too much.”
Paul Gahan told court the owners of the company “don’t care about lives, they just care about the money.”
A memorial tribute including six framed photos of the victim was set up in the courtroom.
Gahan’s family members broke down throughout the proceedings, and read several tearful victim impact statements.
Family members said their lives have been forever changed, and their hearts forever broken since Jordan was killed.
“Jordan had an awesome life and lived life to the fullest,” his mother, Leica Gahan, said.
She described her son as “determined and motivated,” who had a passion for racing and loved scouts, youth group, floor hockey, dirt biking and hunting.
Court heard both of Gahan’s parents had been diagnosed with PTSD.
“So many things are absolutely unbearable for me to do.” his mother said.
Leica Gahan cried as she said her son’s birthday and the anniversary of his death are especially difficult.
“Grief is mentally exhausting…no new memories will be made. We just need to cherish the old ones.”
Court heard because of this incident, Brayford Trucking has made significant changes to their safety and training protocols.
The incident happened at a worksite two hours north of Fort McMurray on the East Athabasca Highway, a privately owned road that provides access to Suncor’s Firebag in situ site, as well as Imperial Oil’s Kearl site, and Husky Energy’s Sunrise site.
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