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One month later, circumstances of 6 deaths at Barrie jobsite remain a mystery

Don Wall
One month later, circumstances of 6 deaths at Barrie jobsite remain a mystery
FILE PHOTO — A series of barriers were seen in place in the days after a fatal car collision on McKay Road in Barrie.

One month after six young adults died when their vehicle crashed at a Barrie, Ont. construction site, neither Barrie Police nor the project owner, the City of Barrie, have divulged details on how the incident happened.

The bodies of Curtis King, River Wells, Jason O’Connor, Luke West, Jersey Mitchell and Haley Marin were discovered in the vicinity of a sewer and watermain project at McKay Road and Veteran’s Drive in Barrie at 2 a.m. on Aug. 28.

The last official communication from either the city or the police occurred Sept. 8, when police issued a statement asking anyone who travelled along McKay Road near the construction site between the afternoon of Aug. 26 and early morning of Aug. 28 to contact them.

Investigators were seen inspecting a large circular construction shaft on McKay Road but no details have been released on what was termed a single-vehicle incident.

In the aftermath of the incident, city manager Michael Prowse stated, “The area was a construction site being managed by city contractors to deliver the design, construction and financing of the water, sewer and roadwork along McKay Road and Veteran’s Drive to service new development in this area. The road has been fully closed and signed accordingly for many months.”

Neither the city nor police have responded to specific questions asking for confirmation that the vehicle may have driven through barriers that were erected and entered the shaft; what barriers had been erected before the incident and what new barriers and security measures have since been installed; how long work on the job was stopped and if it has resumed; and reasons for the strategy of remaining silent on a mishap that occurred on hazardous public property.

City officials have referred all requests for information to police.

Police communications co-ordinator Jennett Mays stated on Sept. 26, “If investigators determine further updates are needed, the information will be released to the public at that time.”

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) did recently respond to a request for information on the incident.

The MLITSD previously identified the constructor of the project as Con Drain Company (1983) LTD.

The City of Barrie’s project website states the project team for the McKay Road and Veteran’s Drive job consists of the owner (City of Barrie), a designer (Schaeffers Consulting Engineers) and a builder (Salem Landowners Group, with the DG Group).

Three orders and three requirements have been issued to Con Drain. First, two requirements and one order were issued to produce documents and one additional requirement was issued not to disturb the scene.

One additional order was issued to protect the health and safety of workers and later an additional order to produce documents was issued.

Con Drain did not respond to a request for comments.

All orders and requirements have been complied with and the ministry’s investigation is now complete.

The MLITSD stated its investigation focused on the application of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and requirements for worker safety at the construction site, and investigating safety issues related to non-workers was beyond its scope.

Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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