Building Collapse Kills Worker

‘It Was a Question of Seconds:’ Building Owner

The surviving workers stare at the wreckage in disbelief (left). Firefighters survey the damage ­(right). Photo Riley Sparks
Photo Riley Sparks

A construction worker was killed in a partial building collapse on the corner of de la Visitation Street and Sherbrooke Street on Sept. 27.

Six workers were renovating an apartment when an exterior wall and part of the third floor gave way. After the building crumbled, a 54-year-old man remained trapped beneath the debris.

Ambulance crews waited outside until the building had been examined by firefighters. By the time paramedics were allowed in, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It was a question of seconds,” said Cédric Dumoulin, the building’s owner. “I just cannot believe it. It’s too much.”

The victim’s 19-year-old son was also working in the building but escaped without injury.

As emergency workers milled about the scene, four men, including one who appeared to be the victim’s son, sat nearby. Huddled on an apartment stoop, they smoked cigarettes and said little.

A spokesperson for the Montreal ambulance service said two of the workers suffered minor injuries.

“The workers were doing their job […] everything was well done. I have no idea how this could have happened,” said Dumoulin. He noted that city inspectors visited the site weekly, and that he believed all of the contractors were properly licensed.

Eric Arseneault, a spokesperson for the Quebec Health and Work Safety Board, said that the agency will begin an inquiry to determine the causes of the accident, but that it could take up to six months.

Arseneault said that he did not know which company was doing the renovation.

According to Dumoulin, the collapsed building was damaged by two fires in a neighbouring building, one in January 2009 and another in September of the same year.

“It’s just bad luck,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on with this corner.”

He added that he did not believe the fires contributed to the collapse.

There were three serious construction accidents last month. On Aug. 6, one worker was killed in Laval when the forklift he was driving rolled over. The day before, three workers were injured while repairing a balcony in the Plateau, and on Aug. 11, another four were hurt when a brick wall collapsed at a construction site in Ville-Emard.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 07, published September 28, 2010.