Tom Sasvari with files from
ICE LAKE—A Massey man has died as a result of a fatal crane accident that took place at a business in Gordon Township shortly before 3 pm on Thursday, June 21.
The man was working with a crane at the business, Dad’s Sales and Service, on Highway 540 when the crane tipped over and struck him. Wesley Gatchell (48-years-old) of Massey was killed in the accident.
Workers had been picking up a utility trailer loaded with snowmobiles to put onto another trailer using a crane. When moving the load, the boom truck crane upset, striking Mr. Gatchell in the head.
On Friday, the Recorder contacted Manitoulin OPP Staff Sergeant Kevin Webb. “The Ministry of Labour will be completing its investigation, and interviews going through the normal channels. If we have to look into it (accident) further, we won’t know until after the ministry investigation is complete.”
Subsequently, on Monday Mr. Webb told the Recorder, “we have completed our investigation, and we’ll get a report from the Ministry of Labour on their findings and we’ll see where things sit and then take a look if we have to. But there are no concerns about there being any criminal intent.”
“I can give you what we have so far, that being the deceased was working on the property, Dad’s Sales and Service along with an employee,” explained Mr. Webb. “They were transferring something from the ground into a flatbed with a boom truck when the boom truck tipped over and landed on the deceased,” added Mr. Webb.
While the Ministry of Labour investigation was still continuing as of this week’s press deadline, William Lin, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Labour, told the Recorder, “what we can tell you is that the deceased was working at the business when the truck tipped over and he was struck by a crane.
Mr. Lin explained, “six orders were issued (by the ministry) on Friday to provide maintenance and inspection records for the crane involved in the accident; two, ensure it was inspected and certified before use; three, a stop work order for that crane; four, ensure any worker operating the crane is certified; five, the National Crane boom truck lifting device be examined for capability in reference to that piece of equipment; and six, a stop work order has been place on the National Crane truck.”
“My understanding is that one crane was involved in the accident, but this is all part of the investigation,” said Mr. Lin. “We will be determining what led to the accident and if there were any violations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Mr. Gatchell, a former Island resident, was at the West End business to pick up belongings from the sale of his house, located on the Poplar Road, his sister Sandra Berthelot explained. Mr. Gatchell and the car lot’s proprietor Ron Campbell were friends, she added, noting that Mr. Campbell had allowed her brother to keep his belongings on his property, which included a truck, camper and trailer, until he was able to pick them up, which he was doing that day. Mr. Gatchell had lived on Manitoulin for a year-and-a-half before moving back to Massey and taking up residence on the family farm. He was in the salvage business, she said.
While the trailer was being loaded using the boom truck, Ms. Berthelot explained, the boom truck crane upset, crashing down on her brother’s truck. Seeing the impending accident, Mr. Gatchell quickly pushed his girlfriend and another young man, who was helping with the move, out of the way. Tragically, Mr. Gatchell could not save himself. The ball from the crane struck him in the head, nearly decapitating him. The grandfather of four was killed instantly, she said.
“He was quite the man,” Ms. Berthelot said following the Monday funeral for her brother. “His life revolved around his four grandchildren (and one on the way).”
She spoke fondly of her brother, noting that he had a passion for the outdoors which included fishing, hunting and camping with special memories of trips up the Tote Road and to Manitoulin.
“He would give the shirt off his back and his last penny to help someone—he was a caring and loving person,” she added.
“It’s devastating,” Ms. Berthelot said of her brother’s death. “The Catholic Church was full today.”
The sister noted the Manitoulin Victim Crisis and Referral Service was on hand to provide help, and assisted Mr. Gatchell’s girlfriend, who witnessed the events. “VCARS was with her all day and really helped her out a lot.”