Family and friends are wondering how a young ironworker came to be crushed while operating a crane on a bridge in south Vancouver on Monday.

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Andrew Slobodian, 22, moved from Ontario to Vancouver last year in search of his dream job in ironworking. ((Courtesy of Dayna Millson))

Andrew Slobodian, 22, had been working on the Canada Line rapid-transit project for less than six months after leaving Ontario last July in search of a dream on the West Coast, said Dayna Millson, his girlfriend of three years.

"Ironworking — he loved it!" Millson told CBC News Thursday. "He wanted to work on bigger projects, like building the bridge.

"He talked about all the beautiful scenery and the people he worked with. He talked about them a lot."

Slobodian was hoisting a load of materials onto the deck of a bridge spanning the Fraser River when the centre of gravity shifted and the crane toppled over, pinning him in the crushed cab.

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This mobile crane collapsed Monday, crushing the operator. InTransit BC says it is still unclear whether the accident stemmed from human error or equipment failure. ((CBC))

Millson said Slobodian had completed a six-month training program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology for ironworkers but the course didn't cover crane operation.

Tom Jackson, whose son Matthew grew up with Slobodian, said he was surprised to learn the young man had been operating a crane.

"Why wouldn't there be someone with 10 or 15 years in the crane industry operating a crane under those conditions?" he said.

Millson said she last saw Slobodian when he returned home to Oshawa at Christmas. She's now choosing the clothes he will wear at his funeral on Sunday.

"You know how everyone always says it's the good ones they take. He was the most responsible 22-year-old I know. I looked up to him so much. He was my everything," she said.