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Employer, foreman criminally charged in workplace death in Burnaby 11 years ago

Pipe-layer Jeff Caron was fatally crushed by a concrete retaining wall in North Burnaby in 2012. His employer J. Cote & Son Excavating Ltd. and foreman David Green now face criminal charges.
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Jeff Caron was 28 years old when a retaining wall fell on him while he was working in a trench in North Burnaby on Oct. 11, 2012.

Eleven years after pipe-layer Jeff Caron was fatally crushed at a Burnaby worksite, criminal charges have been laid against his ex-foreman and the excavation company he worked for.

J. Cote & Son Excavating Ltd. was charged on Aug. 17 with criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing injury.

David Green, Caron's foreman at the time of the accident, faces those charges as well as one charge of manslaughter.

The charges relate to an incident on Oct. 11, 2012, north of Edinburgh Street by Montrose Park in North Burnaby.

Caron, 28, and another pipe-layer, Thomas Richer, were in a 1.2-metre deep excavation next to a concrete retaining wall, according to a WorkSafeBC investigation report obtained by the NOW in 2014. 

"During the process of installing a combination storm and sanitation (sewer) line, the concrete wall collapsed into the excavation," the report states.

Caron was fatally injured when he was pinned between the wall and the bank, while Richer suffered "serious injuries," according to WorkSafe.

The report concluded failures by the City of Burnaby, J. Cote & Son Excavating Ltd. and two engineering firms (Earthbitat Engineering Inc. and Vector Engineering Services Ltd.) to recognize and address known hazards at the site were an underlying factor in the incident.

In 2014, WorkSafe forwarded its findings to the Burnaby RCMP to investigate whether someone should be held criminally responsible.

Burnaby RCMP would not comment on the case this week, but the B.C. Prosecution Service laid a direct indictment against J. Cote & Son Excavating Ltd. and Green in Vancouver provincial court on Aug. 17.

The direct indictment means the case will proceed directly to B.C. Supreme Court without a preliminary hearing.

The next court date in the case is scheduled for Sept. 13.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email cnaylor@burnabynow.com