Authorities continue to investigate the death of a Teck employee at Elkview Operations on Sunday. File photo

Fernie to remember victim of coal mine collision

Private and public celebrations for Stefan James Falzon will be held this Sunday

The Fernie community will remember a young father involved in a workplace incident this Sunday.

A memorial service for family and close friends of Stefan James Falzon will be held at the Rusty Edge from 1- 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 25, followed by a public event from 2-6 p.m.

The 38-year-old Teck Coal employee tragically lost his life when the pickup truck he was driving collided with a fully loaded dump truck at Elkview Operations in Sparwood on Sunday.

MLA for Kootenay East Tom Shypitka has offered his condolences to those affected by the workplace incident.

“It is always difficult to understand the grief that the family must be feeling right now. I’m sure the investigation that will be ongoing in the coming days and weeks will give a clearer view into what went terribly wrong, and hopefully provide some closure,” he said in a statement.

“In the meantime, I encourage everyone to be respectful of the investigation and please support your friends and neighbours who are feeling the impacts of this accident.”

For more information about the memorial services and how to help, visit Cherished Memories Funeral Services.

Earlier The Free Press reported:

Authorities are investigating the death of a 38-year-old Fernie man at an Elk Valley coal mine on Sunday.

The Teck employee suffered fatal injuries when the pickup truck he was driving collided with a fully loaded dump truck at Elkview Operations in Sparwood at approximately 10:45 a.m.

The driver of the dump truck was unhurt.

LOOK BACK: Death of 38-year-old Fernie man at Elkview Operations under investigation

“This is a tragic incident and our most sincere condolences go out to the employee’s loved ones and co-workers,” said Robin Sheremeta, Senior Vice President, Coal.

“We are conducting a full investigation of this incident to identify the cause and prevent a re-occurrence.” The RCMP is also investigating the incident and the circumstances surrounding the collision with the support of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

A Mines Act section 7 investigation has been initiated by the EMPR Chief Inspector and a Senior Investigator arrived at the site on Monday.

Operations at Elkview were temporarily suspended following the incident and were scheduled to restart on Tuesday.

It’s the second death at an Elk Valley coal mine this year after a contractor at Teck’s Fording River Operations was killed on the job in April.

There has been an outpouring of support for those involved in the latest incident.

“On behalf of the USW, I send our deepest condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of this steelworker,” said United Steelworkers District 3 Director Stephen Hunt in a statement issued Monday.

The USW Emergency Response Team has been dispatched to the area, along with the District’s Health and Safety Coordinator.

“We will be making every effort to support the family and local members during this difficult time,” said Hunt.

The Sparwood USW branch, Local 9346, has established donation sites and crisis management following the incident.

LOOK BACK: Union offers support following Sparwood mine death

USW Local 9346 Agreements Compensation Chairman Troy Cook said the union is devastated by the incident, which serves as a stark reminder of the risks of working in the industry.

“It affects everybody, not only the workforce but the communities as well,” he told The Free Press on Monday.

“We’ve been getting calls from all over the place, from other Steelworkers locals and other union locals in support because they get how devastating this is to a work site.”

Anyone experiencing difficulty can find support at the USW hall at 111 Centennial Square, Sparwood.

Donations to the deceased’s family can be made at the USW hall or to the USW Community Assistance Fund at Scotiabank in Fernie, 502 3rd Ave, using account number 30890 02750 26.

E-transfers can be sent to unionassistance@usw9346.ca.

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