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2013-12-18 at 13:38

Inquest begins

By Jodi Lundmark,
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Exactly what happened when a man died at a city construction site last spring will never be known.

The inquest into the death of Lee Antoniak, 31, who died on April 9, 2012 after being struck by a rock truck on the site of the former Thunder Bay Country Club began Wednesday at the Ontario Government Building on Red River Road.

Legal counsel to the Crown Dan Mitchell said there are no direct witnesses who saw Antoniak fall under the wheels of the truck.

"How we got there, no one will ever know," said Mitchell in his opening address to the jury.
The inquest is expected to last three days with up to 15 witnesses scheduled to testify.

Antoniak worked for LTL Contracting, which was hired by Design Build Thunder Bay to complete excavation work for a proposed condominium complex at the site of the former country club on Golf Links Road.

Antoniak was the site supervisor for LTL and Ministry of Labour construction health and safety inspector Cary Roy testified that through his investigation he found Antoniak was a personable and safety-conscious person.

He was well respected by the people who worked under him and his employer and had all the necessary training, said Roy.

Because of the early spring weather in April 2012, the golf season had already started, which left the LTL crew to a restricted area to haul material. In his opening remarks, Mitchell said there were a limited number of workers on the site that day and most were in vehicles or operating machinery.

The crew decided they did not need a signal person that day.

At 1:30 p.m., Superior North EMS crews were called and advanced care paramedic Jeff Monas said he, his partner and a student paramedic arrived on the scene five minutes later.

Antoniak was lying face down on the ground behind the truck that struck him. Monas, a paramedic for 30 years, detected shallow breathing and no carotid pulse. Once he was on the spinal board, there were no vital signs.

They left the scene at 1:47 p.m. and arrived at the hospital about a minute later.

Monas said in his opinion, Antoniak had already died when they arrived at the scene.
He said he was "utterly and completely lifeless" and he felt there was no hope.

"I knew it was fatal," said Monas.

The post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death as blunt pelvic impact trauma.

Thunder Bay Police Service Const. Kevin Middleton testified he arrived on scene as the paramedics were loading Antoniak into the ambulance.

Middleton attempted to talk to the driver of the rock truck, who was visibly upset; the driver was emotional - crying and vomiting. However, he seemed physical fit to operate the vehicle.

Inquests are mandatory for workplace fatalities and after all testimony, the four-person jury is expected to make recommendations to help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

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