In a bizarre case, the uncle of a boy killed in a construction accident has pleaded guilty to obstructing justice after he tried to cover up how the accident happened.
Shane Stecyk, 14, was killed on July 11, 2000, when he fell five storeys through an unprotected skylight opening in the roof of a condominium building he was working on in Edmonton. He hit the floor less than a metre from where his uncle, Blair Hallet, 47, was standing.
Hallet immediately called 911 to get help for his nephew, but the dispatch system also caught him telling a foreman at the work site, “Workers comp will be here right away, so you get that railing up right now.”
Hallet had hired his nephew to work on the project, and it was only Stecyk’s second day on the job when he was killed. At the time of the accident, Stecyk, who was from Calgary, was on the roof vacuuming up puddles of water.
Once paramedics removed the body, the foreman and two workers put up a guardrail before police or workplace health and safety inspectors arrived. Hallet told another employee to ensure there was a banister around the hole and even lied to family members at the hospital, telling them Stecyk had fallen between two railings.
Investigators learned the truth a couple of days later from an apprentice electrician who was working on the site for a subcontractor. In court, Hallet’s lawyer said there had been a guardrail in place, but it was taken down to allow asphalt to be installed. Fearing safety inspectors wouldn’t believe this, Hallet had his staff rush to put up another one before authorities arrived, his lawyer said.
Hallet, and his company Hy-Mark Builders Inc., were fined a total of $138,000 last May after pleading guilty to safety and employment violations.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday. The prosecutor is seeking a three-month prison term, while the defense has asked for a conditional discharge.
The company also pleaded guilty to employing someone under 15 without the written consent of parents and the approval of employment standards. Occupational health and safety officers have intervened 10 times at various construction sites involving Hy-Mark Builders since 1995, and most of the violations were caused by unguarded openings or failure to have guardrails in place.