OHS Canada Magazine

‘His life was cut way too short’: Man killed in Quebec gondola crash identified as Canadian soldier

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July 19, 2023
By The Canadian Press

Health & Safety Canadian Armed Forces Gondola Quebec

Sgt. Sheldon Johnson in an undated photo provided by his family.

By Sidhartha Banerjee

The Ontario man who died in Sunday’s gondola crash at the Mont-Tremblant resort was a selfless military member who was devoted to his family, his brother said Tuesday.

Sgt. Sheldon Johnson, 50, of Kingston, Ont., was a member of the 5th Canadian Division with 20 years of service, the military confirmed in a statement offering condolences to Johnson’s colleagues, family and friends.

Shawn Johnson wrote in a statement on behalf of the grieving family that his brother’s life was cut too short. He described his brother as “a loving father to three beautiful children — two surviving who are missing him terribly, and one angel in heaven he is now cuddling.”

He remembered Sheldon Johnson as “devoted to his family, a caring wonderful brother, a friend,” and someone “always thinking about others before himself.”

“His life was cut way too short, he had so much more love to give,” the brother wrote. “He will be truly missed.”


Canadian Armed Forces spokesman Capt. Matt Zalot said Johnson was a vehicle technician — a mechanic who maintained equipment for 21 Electronic Warfare Regiment, based at CFB Kingston. The military’s statement said it is offering support to Johnson’s family “during this exceedingly difficult time.”

Provincial police and other authorities were back at the resort Tuesday, about 105 kilometres northwest of Montreal, scouring the mountainside site of the crash that also left Johnson’s partner in critical condition.

The pair were thrown from the sightseeing gondola when it was struck by the mast of a drill rig that was being moved underneath, about halfway up the mountain. Police said the machinery first struck an unoccupied gondola before it collided with a second car carrying Johnson and his partner.

Police said the other victim, a woman in her 50s also from Ontario, remained hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday. While doctors were able to stabilize her on Monday, she is not completely out of danger, Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau said.

Bilodeau said investigators are continuing to speak to witnesses and want to talk to the operator who was moving the drill, a man in his 30s, who police said was not yet fit to speak to investigators. His employer has said he was hospitalized for shock after the crash.

The president of the company that owns the construction equipment offered condolences to the victims of the crash in a statement on Monday night.

Maxime Patry of Forage M2P, said the construction equipment was being moved along a route prescribed by the resort owner. The company said the crash was the result of either human error, miscommunication or mechanical failure, but it is too early to pinpoint a cause.

“It would clearly be premature, reckless even, to put forward a theory explaining this accident,” Patry said.

Catherine Lacasse, a spokeswoman for Station Mont Tremblant, said in an email that the resort would not comment further out of respect for the integrity of investigations led by Quebec provincial police and the provincial workplace health and safety board.

The board has closed the gondola, which carries people to the mountain’s summit, while it investigates. Lacasse said most other resort activities had resumed on Tuesday.


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