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Oilfield worker, 27, dies from falling accident in Saskatchewan

Third major workplace incident in province in two weeks


(Canadian OH&S News) — Occupational health and safety officials are investigating a worker fatality that occurred on the morning of Aug. 22, at an oilfield near Alameda, Sask.

Dustin Pratt, a 27-year-old employee of Panther Drilling Corporation, succumbed to injuries from a falling accident at the oil rig. Emergency medical services transported Pratt to the Galloway Health Centre in Oxbow, according to Fatima Khawaja, a spokesperson with STARS air-ambulance services, which was also notified of the incident.

“We were initially dispatched at 12:39 to Oxbow Hospital for a patient from Alameda,” Khawaja told COHSN, “but we were stood down by hospital staff en route.”

Officers from the RCMP’s Carnduff branch also attended the scene of the accident, but the detachment declined to comment.

Laura McKnight, a spokesperson for the provincial Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, confirmed that oh&s authorities were investigating the tragedy, but declined to comment further as the investigation was ongoing.

“The entire Panther Drilling family is devastated by this tragedy,” said Panther Drilling president and chairman Cory Hicks in a statement to the media. “A wonderful young man lost his life… Our thoughts and prayers right now are with his family.”

Based in Weyburn, Panther is a drilling contractor that works on oil and gas wells, mostly in southeastern Saskatchewan, according to information from its website. The company was founded in 2005.

Pratt’s death triggered an outpouring of grief and tributes from friends and others on social media.

“Another piece to our team gone way to [sic] soon. Our hearts goes [sic] out to the Pratt family. Forever missed buddy!!” the Bienfait Coalers, the amateur hockey team for which Pratt had been a defenceman, posted on its Twitter account on Aug. 23.

“We lost a good man far too soon,” tweeted Mike Fowler on the day of the accident, adding that Pratt was “loved by many.”

Pratt’s funeral took place at St. John the Baptist R.C. Church in Estevan, on the morning of Aug. 26. Estevan is about 50 kilometres west of Alameda.

The Pratt tragedy was the third major workplace incident in two weeks in Saskatchewan; the previous two had occurred at the Agrium Inc. potash mine in Vanscoy. On Aug. 8, 29-year-old Agrium employee Chad Wiklun died after being pinned between two pieces of mining equipment underground (COHSN, Aug. 16). Then, on Aug. 21, another worker at the mine was injured and sent to a hospital in Saskatoon. The latter worker was expected to make a full recovery, according to media reports.

Pratt left behind a partner, Christine Meszaros, and their three children, according to his obituary from Hall Funeral Services in Estevan.