Construction worker who died on the job in 2016 'had a full life ahead of him,' says family

Olivier Bruneau's family say he and his partner, Katia, were working on renovating a family home at the time of his death. (Submitted - image credit)
Olivier Bruneau's family say he and his partner, Katia, were working on renovating a family home at the time of his death. (Submitted - image credit)

The family of a worker who was killed by a falling chunk of ice at an Ottawa construction site six years ago say he was full of adventure, generous with his time and "lived life to the fullest."

An Ontario coroner's inquest into the death of Olivier Bruneau, who died while on a construction site in the Little Italy neighbourhood in 2016, began Tuesday with a tearful statement from his family.

"I'm feeling many emotions standing here before you to talk to you about Olivier," said his sister Valerie Bruneau.

She described her younger brother as someone who enjoyed life, and even at the age of 24, "he still had a childlike heart." She said he loved connecting with nature, being active and going to concerts.

She said Olivier Bruneau was a hard worker and highly respected by his colleagues. He was proud of working for Bellai Brothers Construction, the subcontractor on the project at the time of his death, she said, and expected to be with the company for the rest of his working career.


Valerie Bruneau said her brother never hesitated to help friends and family with renovations. At the time of his death, he was in the middle of renovating his own home with his partner.

"Olivier had a full life ahead of him, with a head full of projects. It makes me sad of the life he did not have," she said.

"We miss Olivier every day and we think his friends and colleagues will never forget him."

9 days of testimony

Bruneau was an assistant layout carpenter from Gatineau, Que. He was working at the bottom of a nine-storey-deep construction pit at the Claridge Icon condo site on the corner of Carling and Preston streets when he was crushed by a 56-kilogram chunk of ice that came detached from one of the excavation walls.

Claridge Homes, the company behind the project, Bellai Brothers Construction and two supervisors pleaded guilty to not ensuring that the excavation wall was cleared of material that could fall on workers.

Claridge and Bellai Brothers were each fined $325,000. A Bellai supervisor was fined $15,000 and a Claridge supervisor was fined $12,500.


The provincial coroner's inquest into Bruneau's death is mandatory because he did not die of natural causes while on a job site.

It seeks to answer who Bruneau was and the circumstances around his death.

There are 16 witnesses set to testify over the next two weeks including, family members, coworkers and representatives of Bellai and Claridge Homes.

Members of Ontario's Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development will also give testimony.

It will then be up to a jury of five to set forth a list of possible recommendations of how to prevent a similar death from happening in the future.