A lawsuit filed by the families of two men killed in a construction incident on Gabriola Island claims poor building quality and shoddy repairs are responsible for their deaths.
On March 16, 2021, Christopher Straw was working on a concrete foundation for his new home when the extended boom on a concrete pumping truck snapped at the base, crashing to the ground. The boom struck and killed Straw and his friend Marc Doré, who was assisting with the work. Straw was 62 with a wife, two children and a grandchild.
Lawsuits have been filed by Doré’s wife, Huguette Grenier-Doré, and Straw’s wife, Margaret Gilmour.
They are asking for general damages, special damages and health care costs because the plaintiffs argue they have experienced pain, suffering, treatment costs, loss of income and a loss of capacity to perform household services. It should be noted, none of these allegations stated in the lawsuit have been proven in court.
Both wives and Straw’s son-in-law Jules Malloy were at the site when the incident occurred. Bedrock Redi-Mix Ltd. had been retained to do concrete footing and foundation work for the home. Straw and Doré, who were not Bedrock employees, were near the truck helping place the concrete.
Doré was one of the placing crew, guiding the boom’s hose. Straw was operating a concrete vibrator to eliminate air bubbles. Roughly 10 minutes after the pour began, the boom was at or near full extension and a loud crack was heard.
According to the lawsuit, the turning column snapped from its base at or near the weld repair, causing the entire boom to hit the ground. Straw and Doré were struck and killed.
The suit alleges the turning column failed because of inadequate fracture toughness, damage caused in a prior incident and the inadequate weld repairs following that incident.
Molloy unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate Straw at the scene.
The lawsuit claims the root of the incident went back years.
“Months before the accident, the concrete truck’s boom and turning column had been badly damaged in an earlier incident,” states the lawsuit. “Rather than replace the entire part, an attempt was made to weld the repair turning column. The boom failed at or near the site of the weld repair.”
The lawsuit’s defendants include M & K Ready Mix Inc., which is doing business as Bedrock. They are the concrete company that owned and operated the truck. The company did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
The family is also suing Alliance Concrete Pumps, a concrete pump integrator and supplier that attached the pump to the truck chassis and did the repairs.
JunJin Heavy Industry Co. Ltd., also named in the suit, built the pump. Tripac Engineering, an engineering inspection and testing company is also being sued. They conduct engineering inspection and certification services for equipment, including concrete pump trucks.
The pump was a JXR38 unit which consists of a concrete pump, boom and outriggers. The lawsuit claims the steel used to make the boom turning column on the pump was not adequately tough. The pump was put on a heavy truck chassis by Alliance and then sold to a company not involved in the lawsuit. In 2014, Alliance regained ownership of the concrete truck and sold it to Bedrock as used equipment.
According to the lawsuit, the truck’s turning column and boom sustained “serious damage” in November 2020 while being used by Bedrock.
The lawsuit claims Bedrock did not record important information about what caused this incident in inspection and maintenance logs. Alliance was hired to repair this damage. They replaced part of the boom and then Tripac performed an inspection of the truck.
The lawsuit claims the details of this damage were not shared with Alliance or Tripac before repairs and inspection was done.
The plaintiff’s stated the weld was done without getting enough information about how it should be done, including the full extent of the damage, the metallurgical properties of the turning column, the extent of the repair required, the location of the weld and the need of heat treatment to relieve stresses in the steel around the weld repair.
“Bedrock chose to put the concrete truck back into service knowing that it had not disclosed all relevant information to Tripac and Alliance,” reads the suit.
According to the documents, Straw was a devoted husband and father who had a close relationship with his family. He was a retired CBC Radio producer who still did freelance contract work in the arts and media.
“He was a beloved member of his small, close-knit community,” it reads.
The suit added both widows and Malloy now suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression due to the incident.