Criminal negligence charge stayed in 2009 worker death at Toba Inlet project in B.C.

·1 min read

VICTORIA — A stay of proceedings has been entered in the case of two supervisors and a British Columbia engineering company facing one count each of criminal negligence in connection with a workplace death more than a decade ago.

The B.C. Prosecution Service says in a statement it recently determined the available evidence no longer satisfies the charge assessment standard for a prosecution to continue.

The prosecution service says Samuel Joseph Fitzpatrick died Feb. 22, 2009, when he was struck by a falling rock while working on a hydroelectric project near Toba Inlet, about 160 kilometres north of Vancouver.

The statement says after lengthy investigations by WorkSafeBC, the RCMP and the B.C. Coroners Service, charges were approved in May 2019 and a trial was set to start next week in Vancouver provincial court, but it will no longer proceed.

Burnaby-based Peter Kiewit Sons ULC, construction manager Timothy Rule and crew superintendent Gerald Karjala were each charged with one count of criminal negligence after original investigations allegedly found the work area above Fitzpatrick was not sufficiently cleared of loose material.

The prosecution service statement says the stay of proceedings was issued because the Crown recently decided it did not have the evidence to prove the rock that killed Fitzpatrick originated from the work zone or from another area above the tree line.

"Cumulatively, these changes mean there is no longer a substantial likelihood of a conviction since the Crown cannot definitively exclude the possibility that the rockfall was a random event originating outside the work zone," says the statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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