British Columbia

Teen BMX champion who died in workplace accident wasn't properly trained: coroner's report

A teenage BMX racer who died in a workplace accident on Vancouver Island in 2019 hadn't been properly trained on the job before he was killed, according to a coroner's report released Wednesday.

National junior champion Aidan Webber, 18, died while tying off tugboat at fish farm near Port Hardy, B.C.

Aidan Webber, 18, died in a workplace accident off northern Vancouver Island in 2019. He won Canada's BMX championship for junior men in 2018 and represented Canada at the world championships in Colombia in 2016. (Facebook/Nanaimo BMX)

A teenage BMX racer who died in a workplace accident on Vancouver Island hadn't been properly trained on the job before he was killed, according to a coroner's report released Wednesday.

Aidan Webber, 18, died working on a tugboat at a fish farm near Port Hardy, B.C., on March 10, 2019.

He had jumped off the tug as it pulled up to one of the farm's pens, landing on the walkway to tie off the vessel.

The report said he started tying it up with his back turned to the barge. His colleagues couldn't see him and the tug, still travelling with momentum, collided with the walkway. Webber was crushed between the hull and a stanchion barrier.

Webber was taken to Port Hardy, about 25 kilometres away, for treatment but he died from his injuries en route.

The coroner's report found a number of workplace safety violations contributed to Webber's death. It said the tie-up points were difficult to use and required members of the crew to turn their backs to the boat while carefully feeding a line through a small opening.

It also said the procedure requires dockhands to wait until their boat is properly aligned with the dock before jumping off to secure the ropes, but Webber leapt from the tug early.

"The training that had been provided to Mr. Webber was informal in nature and did not provide specific guidelines for docking safely, including instructing deckhands to await instruction before moving off a vessel onto a mooring location," the report said.

 

Webber was remembered by family and friends as a promising young BMX racer and "constant figure" around the track in his hometown of Nanaimo, B.C. He won Canada's BMX championship for junior men, aged 17 and 18, the summer before he died. He had also represented Canada at the world championships in Colombia in 2016.

He is survived by his parents and siblings. A post on Webber's Facebook page in late 2016 thanked his parents, coach and sponsors for helping him with the sport he loved and was "still truly passionate about."

Sea Roamer Services — which owned and operated the tugboat — violated four areas of the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, the report found. 

The coroner recommended the company develop and implement a formal and comprehensive training and orientation program for workers, plus a record-keeping system to track training and orientation. 

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