A touching tribute was held at the Site C dam under construction in northern B.C. on Friday, in solidarity with the victims of last week’s horrific crane collapse in Kelowna, B.C.
Four major construction companies working on the hydroelectric dam project, known as the Aecon-Flatiron-Dragados-EBC Partnership, observed a moment of silence.
Two work stoppages occurred, one each at 11:00 a.m. and 11:00 pm., to allow all workers to stop and reflect on the tragedy that claimed five lives.
Nine tower cranes oriented and set their jibs facing Kelowna and sounded their horns in unison five times.
“The construction industry is … there is a comradery, it’s a community, and hardworking people supporting their families, proud of their work, so when they see an incident like this, even though they may not know the people personally, we work with people like that every single day, so it does hit close to home,” said communications manager Troy Van Bostelen.
Van Bostelen was present at the site for the tribute and said the moment of silence was a powerful stark contrast from the usual busy worksite.
“It was emotional. If you think about the site five minutes before this, there’s a lot of noise, there is drilling and hammering, it’s a typical construction site and then what really hit me was the silence, and then being broken by the sound of the horns,” he said.
A vigil, organized by the North Okanagan Labour Council, also took place on Friday evening. Approximately 300 people were in attendance.
Flowers were laid at the scene to remember brothers Eric and Patrick Stemmer, Jared Zook, Cailen Vilness and Brad Zawislak, who perished in the collapse.
Many of the people who attended the vigil wore safety vests or fluorescent yellow in honour of the victims.
Michelle Kienas, who was in a building next door to the site of the collapse, attended the event and said she thought she was dealing with the tragedy well.
But she said when she arrived at the Friday evening vigil, “it really hit home.”
The RCMP said that the crane collapsed while it was being dismantled.