New Brunswick

N.B. man killed in Alberta workplace accident, family says

A New Brunswick man is dead following a workplace accident at Suncor's Base Plant mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta., family says.

Patrick Poitras was operating a dozer that fell through ice at Suncor's Base Plant mine

Patrick Poitras, 25, from Saint-Andre, was operating a dozer that fell through ice at Suncor's Base Plant mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta. (Submitted by Joey St-Amand)

A man from Saint-André, near Grand Falls, is dead following a workplace accident at the Suncor Base Plant mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta., according to family members.  

Patrick Poitras, 25, was operating a dozer that fell through ice on an inactive tailings pond around 3 p.m. Wednesday.

He was working for Christina River Construction.

Suncor confirmed the accident in an email to CBC News and said the person is still unaccounted for as of Thursday, and didn't release the individual's identity. 

But RCMP confirmed Poitras' death to his New Brunswick family Wednesday, according to his uncle Joey St-Amand. 

St-Amand said the family is coping with the news and still searching for answers.

Patrick Poitras was planning to work at home in New Brunswick after this stint in Alberta. (Submitted by Joey St-Amand)

St-Amand is fifteen years older than Poitras, and said they are a close family — describing Poitras as more a baby brother than a nephew.

"He has a huge, the biggest heart of gold," St-Amand said, adding that his nephew was always happy and looking to cheer everybody up. 

"He had good work ethics, was loved by many people — he was a good guy."

Poitras was recently home for the holidays, and St-Amand saw his nephew for the last time on Dec. 26 — at a family supper. 

Poitras shared his plans over dinner to return home to work, and said this would be his last trip out west.

"It's pretty unfair what happened. He was coming back home," St-Amand said.

"No parent, no grandparent, no uncle, no aunt wants to lose their relatives, so it's hard to swallow."

Investigation continues

The investigation and search to locate Poitras continued Thursday, according to Suncor. 

"Our thoughts are with the family, friends, and coworkers of this individual," the company said in an emailed statement.

"Our Emergency Services team responded immediately and continues with response activities. Supporting the safety and well-being of our people remains our number one priority and we have activated critical incident stress debriefing resources." 

The appropriate authorities have been notified, Suncor said. 

Occupational Health and Safety and the RCMP are investigating the incident, Alberta OHS spokesperson Natasha McKenzie said Thursday.

McKenzie said OHS officials have been dispatched to the mine. She declined to provide further details, citing the sensitive nature of the investigation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.

with files from Wallis Snowdon

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