Coroner's inquest ordered into 2015 gravel pit death in Drummond

A coroner's inquest will be held later this month into a fatal workplace incident that occurred at a gravel pit in northwestern New Brunswick more than two years ago, chief coroner Gregory Forestell announced Wednesday.

Valdor Michaud, 67, was working for his brother's company when his truck fell into a gravel pit

More than two years after Valdor Michaud was killed in a gravel pit accident while working for his brother's paving company in northwestern New Brunswick, a coroner's inquest has been ordered into his death.

Valdor Michaud, 67, of Drummond, N.B., worked for his brother's paving company for about 10 or 15 years. (O'Regan's Funeral Home)

The public court proceeding will be held Dec. 20-22 in Edmundston, chief coroner Gregory Forestell announced on Wednesday.

Michaud, 67, died the afternoon of July 10, 2015 when the tar truck he was operating for Ray's Paving Ltd., fell approximately 10 metres into a gravel pit in Drummond.

The married father of three and grandfather of two was crushed.

"I'm still missing him," his widow Denise Michaud told CBC News on Wednesday. They were married for 47 years.

"It's not going to bring him back," said Michaud, who learned of the inquest from CBC.

But she said she hopes the hearing will provide some answers and help prevent other deaths.

The coroner service is an independent fact-finding agency that may not make any finding of legal responsibility.

Presiding coroner Jérôme Ouellette and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses in order to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding Valdor Michaud's death.

The jury also has the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances.

'Hard on the family'

Michaud's younger brother and the owner of Ray's Paving, Raymond Michaud, didn't have much to say about the inquest.

"We'll see what they got to say," he said. "I don't have any control over that."

Michaud did remark the timing of the inquest — right before Christmas — is difficult.

"It makes it hard on the family," said Michaud, who lost his son around Christmas time in 2000.

His brother worked for him for about 10 or 15 years, he said.

WorkSafeNB issued a stop-work order to Ray's Paving following the fatality and spent at least three days investigating.

WorkSafeNB investigated the incident, but officials could not immediately be reached on Wednesday to provide an update on the findings.

Investigators measured the slopes of the gravel pit in various areas to determine soil-bearing capabilities, examined equipment and interviewed witnesses. They had issued a stop-work order and remained on site for at least three days.

WorkSafeNB investigations are intended to determine how a fatality occurred, how it may have been prevented, and whether there were any violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Department of Justice and Public Safety spokesman Robert Duguay was unable to provide any information about the WorkSafeNB findings.

Under the Coroners Act, an inquest is held when a worker dies as a result of an accident that occurred in the course of his or her employment at or in a woodland operation, sawmill, lumber processing plant, food processing plant, fish processing plant, construction project site, mining plant or mine, including a pit or quarry.

The inquest will be held at Carrefour Assomption, 121 de l'Église St., Suite 209.