Specialized rescue team aim to recover man’s body after crane collapse in Kelowna


KELOWNA, BC – A specialized team of first responders from Vancouver have arrived in Kelowna, BC four people.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief David Boone said firefighters, paramedics, police and an engineer were part of the Heavy Urban Rescue Team, one of six such teams. in Canada.

Boone, who leads the team, said work is scheduled to begin Wednesday after an assessment of the site where RCMP said a crane overturned on Monday above a 25-story residential tower under construction and s ‘was crushed against a neighboring building.

“We are informed by the first responders who have been active on the site, we are informed by their engineer and the crane engineer and we develop an action plan in the event of an incident and prepare the site for the work” , he said Tuesday night.

“When it comes to real activity of any kind, breaking down walls, going into the building, a lot of work has to happen before that happens.”

The missing man, who is presumed dead, was working in the building adjacent to the construction site and police were hoping to recover his body on Tuesday, Insp. Adam MacIntosh said at a press conference.

Another man who was taken to hospital to treat non-life threatening injuries has since been released, he said.

Mounted Police work with the BC Coroners Service, the BC Worker Safety Agency, WorkSafeBC, the local fire department and engineers to determine what is needed to safely secure parts of the crane in order to retrieve the man’s body, he said.

Until then, a local emergency order prohibits anyone from entering the area.

The building next door housed a consulting firm, MacIntosh said.

He did not speculate on the cause of the collapse, but said workers were preparing to dismantle the crane or were in the process of dismantling it.

“Why exactly this crane collapsed is part of the investigation,” he said. “Obviously, something catastrophic has happened.”

The RCMP are investigating to ensure the collapse was not criminal and an investigation by WorkSafeBC will also determine what happened, he said.

One deceased was taken to hospital, while the others died at the scene, MacIntosh said. The crane operator would be among the dead, he said.

“Some of them were physically on or around the crane when it collapsed.”

The collapse cut power to most of downtown Kelowna and triggered an evacuation order for surrounding homes and businesses. Some people remained displaced from a retirement home on Tuesday, MacIntosh said.

The head of Mission Group, the development company that is building the residential tower, said Monday he did not know what caused the crane to fall.

Jonathan Friesen said company staff and contractors were in a state of shock and bereavement counseling had been offered to all who needed it.

The website for Stemmer Construction, based in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, lists the Kelowna Tower as one of its ongoing projects.

A call to Stemmer’s office to find out if any of its employees were affected by the collapse went unanswered on Tuesday afternoon.

Prime Minister John Horgan called the collapse tragic, saying it was “an event that, quite frankly, you wouldn’t expect to happen on a sunny July day here in British Columbia “.

“Yet it can happen,” he told a press conference. “We need to redouble our efforts on workplace safety and whatever findings WorkSafe presents or the Coroner presents, we will certainly implement across the province. “

A message posted on Twitter Tuesday by Prime Minister Justice Trudeau read: “My heart is in Kelowna today, with the families, friends and colleagues of workers who lost their lives.”

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A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Friday at 9 p.m. near the site of the crane collapse. The goal is to gather as close to the site as possible, organizers say, but the exact location has yet to be determined.

– By Brenna Owen in Vancouver; with files from Alistair Waters in Kelowna, BC

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 13, 2021.

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