Lee Antoniak was a safety-conscious supervisor, inquest told

Lee Antoniak was supervising excavation work at a condominium construction site in April 2012 when he was hit by a dump truck that was backing up.

The first day of testimony into Thunder Bay construction site death wrapped up on Wednesday.

Lee Antoniak was supervising excavation work at a Thunder Bay Country Club construction site in April 2012 when he was hit by a dump truck that was backing up. He was pronounced dead in hospital. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

The first day of an inquest into the construction site death of a Thunder Bay man wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon.

Lee Antoniak, 31, died on April 9, 2012 after he was hit by a dump truck backing up at the Thunder Bay Country Club off Golf Links Road, where a condominium was being built. 

Antoniak was supervising excavation work for LTL Contracting. 

Presiding coroner Dr. David Legge and a four-person jury heard testimony from 10 witnesses on Wednesday, including three workers from the construction site, police and EMS workers, Ministry of Labour staff and an expert from the Centre for Forensic Sciences.  

Paramedic Jeff Monas testified that when he and his colleagues arrived at the scene, Antoniak was lying facedown behind a dump truck.

They put Antoniak on a spinal board, administered CPR and took him to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, but Monas had very little hope he could survive.

"[He was] utterly and completely lifeless," he said.   

According to Legge's summary of the autopsy report, Antoniak had suffered blunt pelvic impact trauma that in turn caused severe bleeding and shock. 

Coroner's counsel Dan Mitchell told the inquest that there were no direct witnesses who had actually seen Antoniak fall under the wheels of the truck. 

"How he got there, no one will ever know," he said. 

Family members, company at inquest

Another truck driver on the site said he had seen Antoniak walking in the area before the accident happened.

All three workers who testified on Wednesday said Antoniak was a safety-conscious supervisor and held "tailgate" meetings every morning to go over the day's work, including potential hazards. 

The inquest jurors heard the dump trucks had to back up a significant distance to get to the unloading point. They also heard the crew didn't have a signal person to keep watch while the trucks were in reverse because the tight working space could have put that person in danger. The trucks weren't equipped with rearview cameras. 

However, Ministry of Labour lead investigator Cary Roy said LTL Contracting followed proper safety procedures, including alarms that beeped when the trucks backed up, properly-maintained mirrors and a policy that drivers must honk their horns before reversing.

Roy noted that new technology is now available that might help prevent similar accidents in the future, including sensors worn by workers to alert truck drivers that they are in the vicinity. 

He also testified that after Antoniak's death, LTL Contracting changed its procedure for loading and unloading trucks to allow them to turn around and minimize the distance they need to back up.  

Representatives of the company were at the inquest on Wednesday. 

Their lawyer, Chris Hacio, said they want to determine how the accident happened and prevent other tragedies in the future.  

Antoniak's wife, mother, mother-in-law and aunt were also at the inquest.

Three more witnesses are scheduled to testify on Thursday morning, including the driver of the truck that hit Antoniak. The inquest jury is expected to deliver its findings and recommendations as early as Thursday afternoon. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.