(Canadian OH&S News) — A vehicle accident that killed a 33-year-old worker at a Yukon mining operation on June 1 has spurred investigations by occupational health and safety authorities, as well as the RCMP and the Yukon Coroner’s Service.
The incident occurred at a placer mine at Gladstone Creek, near the village of Haines Junction, according to information from the Yukon Worker’s Compensation Health and Safety Board (YWCHSB).
Two employees were leaving the mining camp in their own vehicles along a mine access road late in the evening, when the second vehicle, a blue Ford two-wheel-drive passenger van, became stuck while trying to move up a hill, explained Kirsten Macdonald, the Yukon chief coroner.
“So what they did was, they attached a tow rope between the Toyota four-by-four to the van,” said Macdonald, referring to the other worker’s vehicle. “Everything seemed to be going fine, and then the rope slipped off and the van wasn’t moving.”
The driver of the Toyota SUV went to the van and asked the other worker to get out in case of slippage. But after the van driver exited the vehicle, the van slipped back and its open door struck the man. Then the Toyota suddenly rolled back and collided with the van, whose driver “couldn’t get out of the way in time, and he sustained very serious blunt-force trauma,” said Macdonald.
A helicopter transported the victim to a nursing station in Haines Junction, where he was pronounced dead on the following morning. No autopsy has been ordered. A toxicology report is expected, even though alcohol and drugs are not suspected as a factor, according to local media reports.
The Coroner’s Service, RCMP and oh&s officers attended the scene of the accident and examined it over two days, Macdonald said. Police quickly determined that the incident had not been criminal in nature.
YWCHSB communications officer Andrew Robulack confirmed that the Board was helping with the investigation, but could not provide further details.
“They’re still actually collecting the information and facts from the location itself,” he said. “Beyond that, I really can’t say too much.”
Although the worksite is located in Yukon, both of the workers involved in the accident were originally from British Columbia, Macdonald noted.
“They have family here. So even though they reside down in B.C., they were coming up to help out a very small, family-run operation,” she explained.
The Coroner’s Service issued a press statement offering condolences following the accident. “Our sincere condolences go out to the family of this young man, as well as others who are mourning his loss,” the statement read.