Two London, Ont.-area construction workers are being remembered at funeral services being held at the same chapel in Port Burwell, Ont. this week.
John Martens, 21, of Langton, Ont. and Henry Harder, 26, of Tillsonburg, Ont. died as a result of injuries suffered when a four-storey building under construction on Teeple Terrace off Wonderland Road in London collapsed close to noon on Friday, Dec. 11.
Five workers were sent to hospital and one worker was declared dead Friday evening. Recovery work was paused until Saturday (Dec. 12) morning because the building was unstable and the second body was found late Saturday.
London police, on behalf of the coroner, were still investigating the scene on Monday (Dec. 14) after controlling the area where the collapse occurred.
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development has control of the remaining part of the scene and has issued five orders against BECO Development, the developer of the Nest on Wonderland condo project where the collapse occurred. Investigations are continuing.
East Elgin Concrete Forming (EECF) of Tillsonburg posted a statement Saturday in which company president Tyson Van Leeuwen said, “Our hearts go out to the affected workers, their families, friends and co-workers. The safety of our employees, contractors and our community is the number one priority at East Elgin Concrete Forming.”
East Elgin flew its Canadian flag at half-mast in recognition of the tragedy.
The firm would not confirm if either of the workers were their employees but an employee of the firm set up a GoFundMe site “for the parties that represented EECF that day on site in which the devastating accident occurred...The funds raised will be allocated directly to the individuals/families who were impacted by this tragedy.”
The Harder family set up another GoFundMe site for “the family of Henry Harder, who tragically passed away on Friday…leaving behind his wife and three-week–old baby.” A private family funeral service was scheduled be held at the Lighthouse Gospel Church in Port Burwell on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
Martens had 10 siblings according to an obituary published online. A private family service for him will also be held at the Lighthouse Gospel Church, on Thursday, Dec. 17.
Construction stakeholders expressed sympathy for the workers’ families and colleagues and said they anticipated there would be a thorough review of the incident.
Members of the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) were working on the Nest site when the collapse occurred.
“LIUNA and the construction industry stand together with heavy hearts in honour of the lives of Henry Harder and John Martens,” commented LIUNA international vice-president and
Joseph Mancinelli in a statement. “We send strength to the workers who were seriously injured in the partial building collapse on Friday afternoon and remain hopeful for a full recovery.”
Mancinelli added, “Construction is a particularly risky profession and as an industry we must continue to strengthen health and safety to ensure that all workers return home safe and healthy at the end of each workday. Like many, we are asking why and how this happened, and are confident that answers will be found under the thorough investigation by the provincial Ministry of Labour.”
Richard Lyall, president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario, said thoughts of the loss of life and injuries as well as the families affected by this incident come first.
“I can’t imagine what they are going through at this time. Something obviously went terribly and tragically wrong with this construction project and we will be following the investigation closely,” stated Lyall.
The Hamilton-Halton Construction Association tweeted, “Our thoughts are with everyone involved in this tragedy.”
A private demolition company was contracted to support the recovery work of the London Police Service, London Fire Department, Middlesex-London Paramedic Service and the City of London.
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