Widows sue construction companies after fatal site collapse on Gabriola Island

The widows of two men who were killed at a construction site on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, have filed lawsuits against several construction companies, claiming that the boom of a concrete pump truck had undergone repairs from poor quality before breaking and falling on men last year.

Huguette Grenier-Doré and Margaret “Margy” Gilmour lost their husbands, Marc Doré and Chris Straw, in the meltdown last March.

In their lawsuits filed this week, the widows claim the boom of the concrete truck broke near the point where it had been damaged and repaired months earlier.

“The rotating column broke from its base at or near the site of the weld repair, causing the entire boom to suddenly crash to the ground, striking and killing [Straw] and Marc Doré,” read the claims filed Tuesday in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

“The accident was caused solely by the negligence of the defendants.”

None of the allegations have been proven and none of the four defendants have filed a response in court.

Friends were working on the dream house

Straw and Doré, good friends and longtime residents of the island, had worked together last March on what was to be the Straws’ dream home on the northern end of Gabriola Island.

The Dorés, who were involved in building homes, hired a company called Bedrock Redi-Mix to supply concrete for the new footings and foundation for the home. The allegations indicated that Bedrock owned the concrete truck on site.

On March 16, Straw, Dorée, and Doré’s wife acted as the “concrete placement crew” while Bedrock employees steered the truck.

Documents indicated that Doré guided the boom pipe as it poured concrete. Straw was using a concrete vibrator to get rid of the air bubbles and Grenier-Doré followed Straw with a trowel to smooth the surface.

“About 10 minutes after concrete pouring began, when the spire was at or near full extension, there was a severe crack,” the claims read.

Chris Straw pictured with his wife, Margy Gilmour. (Submitted by Margy Gilmour)

The arrow broke and fell on Straw, 62, and Doré, 59.

Straw’s wives and son-in-law witnessed the collapse, it is claimed. Grenier-Doré attempted to revive her husband while Straw’s son-in-law Jules Molloy “unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate” Straw.

The court filing says all three family members suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression after seeing what happened. Straw also left behind two children and a seven-year-old grandson.

In an email Thursday, Bedrock declined to comment on the lawsuits because the cases are still in court.

The spire was damaged and repaired before the collapse

Allegations say the concrete truck was damaged in an unrelated incident in November 2020, four months before Straw and Doré were killed.

An inspection company called Tripac found a crack in the truck’s rotating column, according to claims. The rotating column is the part that connects the boom to the rest of the concrete truck and allows it to rotate to pour concrete as needed.

Tripac allegedly “failed to properly investigate the severity” of the damage caused by the cracks before finalizing its report. Another company, Alliance Concrete Pumps, is accused of repairing the crack by welding rather than replacing the entire part.

“The arrow broke at or near the site of the weld repair [on March 16]”, according to the lawsuits.

The claims also named the truck’s original manufacturer, JunJin, accusing the company of using inadequate steel when the truck was first built in 2007.

CBC reached out to Tripac, Alliance and JunJin for comment, but received no response from any of them.

Both men were retired CBC employees.

Doré was based in Edmonton, where he served as an executive producer for Radio-Canada. He participated in the creation of the series Electronic Highway, SMAC, who is it? it’s me ! and Clan Fate before retiring in 1999.

Straw retired as the network’s senior executive in 2014 after a decades-long career at CBC radio. He has worked on shows including basic black, Real time, That’s it and The irrelevant show.

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