British Columbia

Widows sue construction companies after fatal work-site collapse on Gabriola Island

The widows of two men killed at a work site on Gabriola Island, B.C., have filed lawsuits against several construction companies, claiming the boom of a concrete pump-truck underwent shoddy repairs before it snapped and fell on the men last year.

Concrete boom snapped near point where it had recently been repaired, lawsuit claims

Marc Doré, left, and Chris Straw, right with his grandson Luca, were well-known Gabriola Island residents who died on March 16, 2021, in a construction accident while working together on Straw and his wife's future home. (Huguette Grenier-Doré/Submitted by Margy Gilmour)

The widows of two men who were killed at a work site on Gabriola Island, B.C., have filed lawsuits against several construction companies, claiming the boom of a concrete pump-truck underwent shoddy repairs before it snapped and fell on the men last year.

Huguette Grenier-Doré and Margaret "Margy" Gilmour lost their husbands, Marc Doré and Chris Straw, in the collapse last March.

In their lawsuits filed this week, the widows claim the concrete truck's boom broke near the point where it had been damaged and repaired months earlier.

"The turning column snapped from its base at or near the site of the weld repair, causing the entire boom to suddenly crash to the ground, striking and killing [Straw] and Marc Doré," reads the claims filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

"The accident was caused solely by the negligence of the defendants."

None of the allegations has been proven and none of four defendants has filed a response in court.

Friends had been working on dream home

Straw and Doré, good friends and long-time island residents, had been working together last March on what was to be the Straws' dream home on the northern end of Gabriola Island.

The Dorés, who were involved in home-building, hired a company called Bedrock Redi-Mix to provide concrete for the home's new footings and foundation. The claims said Bedrock owned the concrete truck on site.

On March 16, Straw, Dorée and Doré's wife were acting as the "concrete placing crew" while Bedrock employees ran the truck.

Documents said Doré was guiding the boom's hose as it poured concrete. Straw was using a concrete vibrator to get rid of any air bubbles and Grenier-Doré followed Straw with a trowel to smooth the surface.

"Approximately 10 minutes after concrete pouring began, when the boom was at or near full extension, there was a loud crack," the claims read.

Chris Straw pictured with his wife, Margy Gilmour. (Submitted by Margy Gilmour)

The boom snapped and fell on Straw, 62, and Doré, 59.

Both wives and Straw's son-in-law witnessed the collapse, according to the claims. Grenier-Doré tried to revive her husband while Straw's son-in-law, Jules Molloy, "unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate" Straw.

The court filing said all three family members have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression after seeing what happened. Straw also left behind two children and a seven-year-old grandson.

In an email Thursday, Bedrock declined to comment on the lawsuits as the cases are still before the court.

Boom was damaged and repaired before collapse

The claims said the concrete truck was damaged in an unrelated incident in November 2020, four months before Straw and Doré were killed.

An inspection company called Tripac found a crack in the truck's turning column, according to the claims. The turning column is the part that links the boom to the rest of the concrete truck and allows it to rotate to pour concrete as needed.

Tripac allegedly "failed to properly investigate the severity" of the crack damage before finalizing its report. Another company, Alliance Concrete Pumps, is accused of repairing the crack with welding rather than replacing the entire part.

"The boom failed at or near the site of the weld repair [on March 16]," according to the lawsuits.

The claims also named the original manufacturer of the truck, JunJin, accusing the company of using inadequate steel when it first built the truck in 2007.


CBC has contacted Tripac, Alliance and JunJin for comment but has not received a response from any of them. 

Both men were retired employees of CBC.

Doré had been based in Edmonton, where he served as executive producer for Radio-Canada. He was involved in creating the series Autoroute Électronique, SMAC, c:qui? c/moi! and Clan Destin before retiring in 1999.

Straw retired as a senior network director in 2014 after a decades-long career with CBC Radio. He worked on shows including Basic Black, RealTime, This is That and The Irrelevant Show.

With files from Bridgette Watson


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