The union representing workers at the Iron Ore Co. of Canada mine in western Labrador is raising questions about whether a quicker air ambulance response could have prevented a fatality.
Eldon Perry, 56, died early Friday from injuries he sustained during a fall on Thursday afternoon at the mine site. He and another worker fell 24 feet, or about 7 metres.
The other worker was listed in critical condition Friday at Capt. William Jackman Memorial Hospital.
"This is shocking," said George Kean, president of the United Steelworkers local at Labrador City.
"[Perry's family is] very upset and, you know, just wondering if air ambulance had come in would their husband, their father be alive today."
Kean said workers were told around 5 p.m. on Thursday that an air ambulance was en route. As hours passed, they were given different explanations about whether a flight could be released, including from Quebec.
A medivac flight finally arrived at the airport in Wabush around 1 a.m. on Friday, but by then Perry had died.
Kean said that is not acceptable.
"It's ridiculous what's happening here in Labrador West...and we want to see on the tarmac in Wabush, when this budget comes down, an air ambulance stationed here 24-7," he said, referring to the provincial budget expected on March 29.
He also said the union wants an investigation into whether an earlier air ambulance may have made a difference.
Meanwhile, IOC has, as a safety precaution, temporarily suspended operations at its Labrador City mine, as well as it a related facility in Sept-Îles, in Quebec.
In a statement, IOC said it is co-operating fully with an investigation.
"The IOC team remains in close contact with [Perry's] family and will continue to provide them with full support," the company said in a statement. "Our prayers and condolences are with them all at this very sad time."