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Alberta firefighter's death "not work related"

Labour ministry investigated death of Jerry Gadwa
Jerry Gadwa
Veteran firefighter Jerry Gadwa died on July 26 near Red Lake (Facebook)

RED LAKE, Ont.  — Investigators from Ontario's Ministry of Labour have determined that the death of an Alberta firefighter last month was not work-related.

A ministry spokesperson confirmed the finding in an emailed statement to Tbnewswatch, adding that "Therefore our investigation will be closing shortly."

A spokesperson for the family of firefighter Jerry Gadwa of Alberta's Kehewin Cree Nation says complications related to an existing medical condition appear to have led to his death.

The 49-year-old man died on July 26 after he was reportedly found unconscious in a firefighting camp in the Red Lake district.

In an interview Wednesday with Tbnewswatch, Kehewin council member William John said Gadwa had felt unwell the day he passed away. "He was feeling pretty sick to his stomach. He was left in the camp, wherever the boys stayed, and every now and then someone would come and check on him."

According to John, family was told that during the last check, a crew member found him unconscious, and he died en route to hospital.

John said the family is "pretty confident Jerry never knew he had an ulcer. Apparently the ulcer ruptured, and that's what killed him."

Gadwa's funeral service was held on Aug. 2 in his home community.

Firefighters in Bonnyville, Alberta arranged for what John described as "an armada of fire trucks" to pay homage to Gadwa as his remains were transported from the funeral home along the town's main street.

"They did an amazing thing for Jerry," John said.

He added that at the funeral service, firefighting representatives from Ontario joined dozens from Alberta to honour Gadwa and to show support for the veteran firefighter's family.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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