British Columbia

Multiple people dead following Kelowna, B.C., crane collapse

Police say there have been "multiple confirmed fatalities" in a crane collapse at a construction site in downtown Kelowna, B.C.

Area residents evacuated until further notice as investigation continues

‘Multiple’ deaths after crane collapse in Kelowna, B.C.

1 year ago
Duration 2:53
Police say there have been 'multiple fatalities' after a crane collapsed at a construction site in downtown Kelowna, B.C., on Monday. The crane fell into adjacent buildings, including a seniors’ home.

There have been "multiple confirmed fatalities" in a crane collapse at a construction site in downtown Kelowna, B.C., according to police.

The development company said there was a "catastrophic failure" Monday morning when a crane collapsed at one of its work sites, falling into the office building next door as well as a seniors' home. 

Mission Group said the collapse happened at about 10:45 a.m. PT at the downtown Brooklyn building on Bernard Street.

Emergency responders were called to the site and the building was evacuated. 

RCMP initially said there had been "at least one fatality," but later confirmed "multiple" people had been killed.

"Fire, ambulance and RCMP converged quickly, however, there are multiple confirmed fatalities," Kelowna RCMP Insp. Adam MacIntosh said during a news conference Monday afternoon.

The area surrounding a construction site in Kelowna, B.C., where a crane collapsed on Monday morning. (CBC)

MacIntosh said at least one person is missing.

On Monday afternoon, B.C. Emergency Health Services said three patients had been taken to hospital with varying injuries.

According to Mission Group, the people who died were subcontractors and not employees of the company.

"It doesn't matter whose employees they were. They were on our site and as a result of their work they did lose their lives," said CEO Jonathan Friesen.

The BC Coroners Service and WorkSafeBC are conducting their own investigations into the incident.

"Mission Group expresses its deepest sympathy for the families of those affected by this tragedy. We have set up support services to help those in need," a spokesperson for the development company said in a statement.

Police set up a four-block perimeter and evacuated the area around St. Paul Street, Doyle Avenue, Bertram Street and Bernard Avenue, asking residents and drivers to stay away. 

Police said the area would be cordoned off until the investigation is complete.

Aircraft, including drones, have been banned from the area. 

"All workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace — even one injury or death is too many," Harry Bains, the province's minister of labour, said in a written statement. 

"This is a heartbreaking reminder that we must strive to ensure the safety of all workers to prevent incidents like this from happening."

Bains said more information will become available as the investigation continues. 

Collapse disrupted power

Police said power was disrupted to much of the downtown core. Traffic was being rerouted away from the area.

Kelowna resident Krista Roessing was driving by the construction site when the crane came down. 

"It looked like the crane was moving but then I realized that it wasn't moving in a fashion where it was operating, it was coming down," she said. 

She called 911 as people came from all directions to help. Roessing said construction workers started asking people to back away from the area and emergency crews arrived within minutes.

"It's shocking," she said. "It's pretty hard to process."

Anna Jacyszyn, who works at a clothing store nearby, was looking out the window when she saw a "huge puff of dust" at the construction site. 

Moments later, emergency services started to arrive. 

"I was literally just praying and crying, because the emotions you get when you know that someone could be hurt is pretty drastic," she said.

Her husband works in construction, at another site, and she said it made the collapse feel more personal. 

Police set up a four-block perimeter and evacuated the area around St. Paul Street, Doyle Avenue, Bertram Street and Bernard Avenue. (Zameer Karim/CBC)

Local state of emergency

An evacuation order has been issued for several addresses in the area and an emergency operations centre has been set up.

Evacuees are asked to go to the Salvation Army at 1480 Sutherland Ave., and anyone looking for someone who may be injured or is unaccounted for should go to the Parkinson Recreation Centre at 1700 Parkinson Way.

Residents won't be able to return home or to their places of work while the order is in place.

A state of emergency has also been declared for the city for the next seven days. 

With files from Zameer Karim, Dominika Lirette and Tom Popyk