An aerial lift machine that tipped, causing the death of 24-year-old Gustavo Argueta at the MacKenzie River Bridge construction site in 2011, never should have been used on that site, said a Hertz Equipment Rental mechanic.
Argueta died on June 24, 2011 after the Genie S65 boom lift he’d been operating on the construction site tipped.
A coroner’s inquest into his death began Monday morning with testimony from OPP officers, a paramedic and Tim Ebert, a mechanic with Hertz.
The machine belonged to Hertz and was rented to the Teranorth Construction company, which was commissioned to build the bridges as part of the twinning of Highway 11/17 from Thunder Bay to Nipigon.
Ebert testified Monday morning at the provincial government building on Red River Road that the machine had been in excellent condition when it was rented to Teranorth.
The court saw photos taken by OPP Const. Mark Maltais from the scene of the incident that afternoon that showed the lift had fallen onto its side. The machine had been operated under the bridge on a severe slope.
Ebert said the Genie S65 comes with an alarm that sounds when the machine is on a slope with an angle greater than 4.5 degrees. It consists of a flashing red light and an audible beeping noise in the basket.
After the incident, Ebert attended the scene to inspect the machine and found that there was spray foam in the alarm and when he opened the operating panel in the basket, the wires for the alarm had been disconnected.
He didn’t believe the wires could have come loose from the impact of the machine hitting the ground.
Ebert also said, in his opinion, the machine never should have been used on that site because of the slope.
Superior North EMS paramedic Joslyn White and her partner were the first responders on the scene the day of the incident.
White said Argueta was in grave condition and was unresponsive, but still had a pulse.
While travelling in the ambulance to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Argueta’s vital signs were gone when they reached the intersection of John Street and the Thunder Bay Expressway.
They pulled over to use the defibrillators and then proceeded to the hospital and started CPR.
Legal counsel to the Crown Dan Mitchell said industrial incidents like this typically result in a coroner’s inquest.
“It’s designed to prevent future incidents like this from taking place and to protect workers,” he said.
Upwards of 15 witness will be called throughout the inquest, which is scheduled for the entire week, but Mitchell said testimony could wrap up in three days.
The jury will visit the rental company and the MacKenzie River Bridge site Tuesday.