Bell worker who died on the job 'touched a lot of lives': Daughter

·3 min read

A 54-year-old Bell Canada worker whose workplace death is being probed by the federal labour department was a humorous and hardworking man with a “huge heart,” his daughters say.

Paul Totten of Woodstock died Monday morning after falling several metres from a ladder while working on a utility line on Delevan Crescent, between Second and Third streets, in the town of Tillsonburg, southeast of London.

Totten was a worker with Bell Technical Solutions, a subsidiary of Bell Canada, for more than 20 years. He was “a hard worker” who loved helping customers, said his daughter, Shelby Schneider.

“When I think of my dad, I think of how hard of a worker he was,” she said during a phone interview, her voice choking with emotion.

His other daughter, Emily James, 23, recalled when her father would return home from work “gleaming” because of the compliments paid to him by customers.

“They loved him,” she said. “He provided amazing service to everybody he worked for.”

It was not just a technician job, she said. “It’s so much more, to him.”

Emergency crews responding to a "non-traffic accident" on Delevan shortly after 11 a.m. Monday determined the technician working on site was “injured due to a fall,” Oxford OPP said.

Totten, 54, was taken to hospital where he died.

Employment and Social Development Canada’s labour program is probing the death, a requirement under Canada’s labour code when a federally regulated workplace is involved, a spokesperson said.

“The government of Canada extends its deepest condolences to the families, friends and co-workers of the victim of the fatal incident,” Marie Terrien said.

A Bell Canada official said the company is “deeply saddened” by the sudden death and is “working closely with authorities on the investigation into the incident.”

Described as a “total animal lover,” Totten lived in Woodstock with his cat and two dogs. “He absolutely adored his dogs. He might have even liked them better than he liked humans,” James quipped.

Totten was well respected among his colleagues, said Nick Haber, who worked with him for three years.

“He was a good man” and always “seemed to enjoy life,” Haber wrote in an online message. “We lost a brother, if you will. All of Bell is impacted.”

Whether it was through work, family or the close-knit community he formed playing Pokemon Go, his favourite hobby, Totten left a lasting impression on everyone he met, his daughters said.

“We knew he touched a lot of lives . . . but we didn't realize how big that population was,” said Schneider, noting it’s become more apparent since his death.

“He didn't show it as often as he probably should, but he had a huge heart,” she said. “I think that's what drew a lot of people to him.”

Loved ones of Totten are expressing gratitude for the outpouring of support from his friends, union and colleagues. They plan to hold a public service — what his daughters hope will be “a celebration of life”— for him in the next few weeks.

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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