Two SaskPower employees dead after ‘serious safety incident’ in Weyburn, utility says

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Two SaskPower employees dead after ‘serious safety incident’ in Weyburn, utility says
WATCH: Two SaskPower employees are dead after what’s being described as a serious safety incident and critical equipment failure in Weyburn. Katelyn Wilson has details on the accident and how the community is reacting. – Oct 9, 2020

Two powerline technicians employed by SaskPower died in Weyburn, Sask., on Thursday following a “serious safety incident” says the utility company.

The victims have been identified by SaskPower as Scott Bill and Cole Crooks. SaskPower says the two men worked on the Weyburn construction crew, with their work taking them to many communities in southern Saskatchewan.

The two men died after falling from a piece of equipment according to Weyburn Police Services.

Police responded to the industrial incident at around 3:10 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of Government Road South and Sixth Avenue Southeast.

SaskPower crews were performing some type of work when the incident occurred, police say.

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“Two of the SaskPower employees had fallen from a piece of equipment,” deputy police chief of the Weyburn Police Service Rod Stafford said.

Bill, a 51-year-old employee was declared dead on scene, and Crooks a 40-year-old SaskPower employee with serious injuries was taken to Weyburn General Hospital.

Crooks succumbed to his injuries and died in hospital, “very soon” after arriving Stafford said.

Global News obtained a photo from the scene, which appears to show the bucket on a boom truck turned upside down.

Two SaskPower employees dead after ‘serious safety incident’ in Weyburn, utility says - image

“From the bottom of our hearts, we acknowledge them for their service and dedication to SaskPower and to our customers across the province. This terrible loss of members of our SaskPower family and of the Weyburn community, is deeply felt by us all,” SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh said in a statement.

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“On behalf of the entire Executive team and Board of Directors at SaskPower, our heartfelt condolences and sincere sympathies go out to their families, friends and to all their co-workers in this difficult time.”

Occupational Health and Safety officers are conducting an investigation, and are examining the equipment from which the employees had fallen, Stafford said.

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Mayor of Weyburn Marcell Roy said the two men had fallen from a lift truck following a mechanical accident.

“From there, there was a fall from heights. That’s where it becomes so tragic,” Roy said.

According to a SaskPower spokesperson, there were no other injuries.

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‘Entire community is grieving’

According to police, both men were from Weyburn which has left many in the community shaken, including members of the police service.

“Anytime you have a tragic incident it impacts the community. Even more so when the people are from the community the incident happened in. They lived here, worked here,” Stafford said. “Everyone knows everyone and the entire community is grieving as a result of this.”

Roy, who has worked in emergency services throughout his life, has seen a lot of tragedies, but this one hits particularly close.

“These people have young families and it will cause a ripple effect throughout (the community). People this age are not supposed to die this young,” Roy said.

“They had friends and families. Even though we’re a smaller city of 11,000, people are very much interconnected. This has affected an awful lot of people in this city.”

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents SaskPower’s linemen, said the two men were long-time members of the union.

“It comes as a shock… in my 47 years this is a first for me,” said William Campbell, IBEW Saskatchewan local 2067 business manager said.

“As utility workers we pride ourselves in going out there in snow, wind, cold, night, day, 24/7, 365.”

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As for safety, while Campbell said he could not comment on this incident, he said there are protocols in place.

“We go to great lengths to make sure that we are safe and this doesn’t happen. We pride ourselves on our safety record,” Campbell said.

“There is a standard operating procedure for working at heights. That’s an Occupational Health and Safety mandate that anything over three metres or 10 feet, you are required to wear a safety harness and be buckled and tied off.”

Global News reached out to SaskPower who said it could not provide any more details at this time.

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