Sask oil industry worker dies from sour gas poisoning

Last May, Michael Bunz died of sour gas poisoning while testing a well in southeast Saskatchewan. His widow hopes his death sends a powerful message to the industry about the importance of safety around sour gas.

Widow hopes her husband's death sends powerful safety message

Kara Bunz (left) said she sensed something was wrong the morning of May 22, 2014 when her husband, Michael Bunz (right), was found dead after being exposed to H2S while at his oil industry job in southeast Sask.

Kara Bunz said she had no idea how dangerous her husband Michael's job was. 

Michael Bunz, 38, sold chemicals to the oil industry in southeast Saskatchewan. As part of his work he would regularly do testing at well sites. 

Kara said she knew something was wrong, on the morning of May 22 last year. Michael didn't answer her texts or phone calls. 

Michael Bunz (middle), 38, left behind two young daughters after his death in 2014. (Facebook)
Then just before noon, "I got a phone call from his boss that he was hurt. And he was gone."

"I got the autopsy report, so I know 100 per cent that it was H2S gas," Bunz said. 

The coroner's office confirmed that with CBC's iTeam.

Michael left behind two little girls. 

"It's been horrible. Absolutely horrible. I've been with my husband since I was 16 years old," Bunz said. 

Occupational Health and Safety confirmed it's investigating, but declined any comment. 

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Economy is sounding the alarm about a growing problem with sour gas leaks in southeast Saskatchewan. 

At this point it's unknown if leaks played any role in his death. 

Bunz said the wait for answers is painful. 

"It is hard living every single day not knowing, not knowing what happened."

She said regardless of why Michael was exposed to H2S that day, she hopes his death sends a powerful message to industry and government. 

"I just hope they take the precautions that they need to so they can go home to their families at night," Bunz said. 

About the Author

Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo has been a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan since 2001. His work as an investigative journalist and documentary producer has earned numerous national and regional awards.

With files from CBC's Roxanna Woloshyn