The Day of Mourning is observed annually on April 28 to remember and honour those who have died, been injured or suffered illness in the workplace. In recognition of the Day of Mourning, we are sharing stories from some of the families affected by workplace tragedy. Their powerful accounts reveal profound loss, personal strength and the value of support. In particular, they demonstrate the critical importance of prevention.
From the moment Adam was born, he was a joy to behold. He had a love for sports and a passion for music, cooking and family. He had a beautiful smile and he let the world know he was in it.
Adam played many sports such as soccer, rugby, baseball, basketball, karate, and was a winning goalie on the Rep hockey team in Erin, Ontario where we lived. But above all he was an avid snowboarder and landed many tricks. His many friends proclaimed he was unbeatable at disc golfing. He also loved kick boxing to get in shape.
He would drive long distances to be at family gatherings, and would arrive with arms wide open. Adam always made all occasions truly memorable.
His love of music started in his daycare Christmas show when he played Billy Ray Cyrus and grabbed the mic at the end of the performance of “Achy Breaky Heart” and said: “You all listening?” It progressed to high school when he and four of his friends formed a band called the ‘Sasquatches’ and crafted songs like “Cash Flow” (or lack of it!). Later on in his twenties in the music scene in Guelph, Adam’s hip hop Group “Skeleton Crew” which morphed into “Phreaks of Technique” rapidly gained popularity.
Following the 2013 ice storm, Adam found a job at a tree service company cleaning up the broken tree damage. His interest in everything to do with tree care grew over the following years and Adam applied to Humber College’s Arborist Apprenticeship Program in January 2017. His boss was really impressed with his progress in completing Level I of the program and encouraged Adam to take his International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certification which he successfully completed, becoming a Certified Arborist.
If that wasn’t enough, Adam got his DZ Operators license that same summer and was ready to drive the company bucket trucks. This lead his boss to promote him to crew leader and things kept progressing so much that Adam urged his boss to allow him to take the Level II Arborist Apprenticeship Program in January 2018. Adam graduated with Honours in March 2018 and, out of a class of 100, he was the only Certified Arborist. Adam wasn’t finished there. He successfully completed a one-week hydro safety course with above average marks, exceeding the expectations of the instructor.
His boss said he was the future of his company. At 28 years old, Adam was finally reaping the rewards of his hard work.
On Friday, May 4th 2018, Adam went to work clearing trees in Milton along the hydro lines. A big tree had fallen on the road, blocking the path of a school bus with a young child aboard. According to the bus driver, Adam boarded the bus and comforted the child, saying he would clear the tree out of the way. He and his co-worker went to work cutting up the tree and removing the limbs. They were just finishing up clearing the debris when a sudden huge gust of wind (110km/h) snapped off a large tree which fell on Adam and his co-worker.
Adam was killed instantly and his co-worker, Zach, died later in hospital.
The only solace was that Adam died doing a job he loved and, because of him and Zach, a child made it home safely that day.
According to Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc., insured damages from this windstorm, which affected Ontario and parts of Quebec, topped $410 million. For Ontario, this was the most costly insured event since the 2013 Toronto floods. The greatest loss in this terrible windstorm was the loss of precious lives, including my son Adam, who worked so hard to achieve his goals but didn't get to realize the success he so deserved.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour did not find any fault with Adam's employer because there was no safety procedure that could have avoided his and his co-worker's deaths.
The love and tributes he has received from those who knew him are testimony to Adam’s positivity and infectious personality. His legacy lives on through annual memorial scholarships awarded to students attending Humber College’s Arborist Apprenticeship Program. Adam would be so happy to help out students struggling with the costs of their tuition and required equipment so that they could achieve the same success as he did.
Wherever Adam went, he spread laughter and fun. He was always thoughtful of others’ feelings, making sure they were included. He certainly gave life his best effort. I couldn’t be more proud of him and am grateful to have been his Mum.
In recognition of the Day of Mourning, please join us in lighting a digital candle to remember the workers we have lost and the families, friends and colleagues whose lives have been forever changed. www.pshsa.ca/lightacandle