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Canadian country star Aaron Pritchett remembers family member killed in Kelowna crane collapse

Click to play video: '‘It’s unbelievable’: Heartbroken father of construction worker killed in Kelowna crane collapse in shock' ‘It’s unbelievable’: Heartbroken father of construction worker killed in Kelowna crane collapse in shock
Cailen Vilness, 23, died on his first day of the job at a construction site in downtown Kelowna, B.C. His father Chris is now struggling to understand what went wrong. Robin Gill reports from the scene – Jul 14, 2021

A prince of a man.

That’s how Canadian country star Aaron Pritchett described his beloved second cousin, Cailen Vilness, who was killed in last Monday’s horrific crane collapse in Kelowna, B.C.

Pritchett took to social media on Sunday to share his family’s grief, saying they lost a son, brother, uncle, nephew and partner, whom he described as “one of the sweetest, most kind, honourable, and loving members.”

Vilness was one of five men who died when a tower crane attached to a high-rise building under construction collapsed while it was being dismantled.

Read more: Family of young man killed in Kelowna crane collapse says he had a bright future

He was just 23 years old.

“Every time I happened to be in Kelowna, Cailen would drop everything to visit. He would do that for anyone in his family whom he never had the chance to see often, because family meant the world to Cailen,” Pritchett wrote.

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“His infectious smile and laugh, sense of kindness and care warmed my heart, and anyone he met. He truly was a prince of a man, and all who met him would say the same about Cailen.”

Vilness was the son of Pritchett’s first cousin, Danielle. Pritchett said he considered Vilness his nephew.

Click to play video: '‘It’s unbelievable’: Heartbroken father of construction worker killed in Kelowna crane collapse in shock' ‘It’s unbelievable’: Heartbroken father of construction worker killed in Kelowna crane collapse in shock
‘It’s unbelievable’: Heartbroken father of construction worker killed in Kelowna crane collapse in shock – Jul 14, 2021

“Some people are put on earth as angels. To be a light for those who need positivity, happiness and boost your will to live; Cailen was one of those people,” Pritchett said.

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Pritchett wrote that Vilness helped his mother beat brain cancer, twice — a Stage 4 diagnosis.

Read more: 5th body recovered from rubble following deadly Kelowna, B.C., crane collapse

He met his soulmate, Jaydean, in Kelowna, and the two were planning to get married and spend the rest of their lives together, Pritchett wrote.

“But with the similar heart of gold Jaydean possesses, and knowing that Cailen loved her as much as he did, Jaydean will be a member of our family for life,” he said.

Prichett concluded his heartfelt open letter by saying Vilness will never be forgotten.

Click to play video: 'Vigil held for Kelowna crane collapse victims' Vigil held for Kelowna crane collapse victims
Vigil held for Kelowna crane collapse victims – Jul 17, 2021

“I love you, buddy.”

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The country singer is urging the public to donate to a verified GoFundMe page, established to support Vilness’s family as they cope with unimaginable grief.

More than $60,000 has been raised in five days.

Global News spoke to Cailen’s father, Chris Vilness, just days the tragedy that claimed his son’s life.

Read more: Two brothers among those killed in Kelowna, B.C., crane collapse

He said the family hails from Kitimat, B.C., and has roots in the construction industry. It was Cailen’s first day back on the job. He was asked by Stemmer Construction to help dismantle the crane.

Chris Vilness said the loss is devastating, the magnitude of which he is still comprehending.

Click to play video: 'Extended interview with Cailen’s girlfriend, Jaydean Braham' Extended interview with Cailen’s girlfriend, Jaydean Braham
Extended interview with Cailen’s girlfriend, Jaydean Braham – Jul 14, 2021

“The feeling that comes across you when you get the news, it’s unbelievable. You don’t ever want to lose anybody. I lost a brother recently. To lose your own children, it’s a different pain,” he said.

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Cailen’s girlfriend, Jaydean Braham, said she waited for nearly 12 hours for the official notification that her boyfriend was deceased. But she already knew in her heart that he was gone.

“I felt a chill down my spine and I heard him say, ‘I love you. It will be OK, baby,’ and so at that time, I knew, I knew he was gone.”

Stemmer Construction, the Salmon Arm-based company that owned the crane, broke its silence over the weekend, releasing a brief statement on its website.

“We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred on the Brooklyn Tower Project,” the company said, while asking for privacy.

“We thank you for your love, understanding, and prayers of support during this time of profound grief.”

The cause of the crane collapse remains under investigation.

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