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Inquest into teen's Mill death

The coroner’s inquest into the tragic workplace death of a Lumby teenager began Monday in Vernon.

The inquest surrounds the death of 18-year-old Bradley Michael Thomas Haslam, who died June 15, 2013 after getting caught in a conveyer belt at Tolko’s mill in Lavington.

Haslam had recently graduated high school and was working the graveyard cleanup shift early Saturday morning when the accident occurred.

According to reports the incident happened right around 1:30 a.m. on June 15. Haslam apparently got caught between a conveyor belt and roller on the third chipping machine. He was eventually freed and rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Haslam was working alone during his clean-up shift near the number three chipper when the accident occurred. His supervisor, Roger Marshall (who will speak to the jury Tuesday), allegedly noticed the belt had stopped moving on the conveyor and went to see what had happened, finding Haslam.

A sense of chaos ensued as staff at the mill worked to free him from the belt and start first aid.

The jury heard from employees Clayton Phillips and Kirby Hayhurst. Both men worked in a different part of the mill and had been asked to work overtime that morning as a “species switch’ needed to happen before Monday. Neither man knew Haslam before that night.

Phillips recalls the emergency alarm going off and the call for help over the radio.

He is a Level 3 First-Aid attendant and rushed to the scene. When he got there things were grim. He says Haslam was caught between the belt and the roller; he was unconscious and turning blue.

Phillips, working with Hayhurst and Marshall worked to cut the belt and free Haslam. He says the first saw the men grabbed for to cut the belt was missing a blade, leaving them rushing to find an alternative chainsaw to cut the belt.

Hayhurst says he was able to cut the belt quickly with the chainsaw around the corner, freeing Haslam and dropping him to the ground.

Phillips says he immediately pulled him free and checked for vitals. There was no pulse, he checked twice, as did Marshall.

Both men (Marshall and Phillips), who are first-aid trained, began chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth.

Phillips says after a few minutes he noticed there was no progression, no sign of vitals and he ran to get the Automated External Defibrillator.

With the attached AED and CPR work continuing, the men say they worked tirelessly until paramedics arrived 20 to 25 minutes later. Phillips says the AED machine never told them to shock.

“I yelled ‘Come on, Bradley’, ‘Breathe Bradley,’ but he was turning a purple-y blue,” says Phillips.

And no point, according to Phillips, did Haslam show a pulse, breaths or any signs of progression.

Paramedics rushed him to hospital where the time of death was determined nearly one hour after the incident. But, according to Hayhurst, Phillips, the paramedics (Alana Hicik and Lisa Olszewski) and the attending E.R. doctor Dr. Burgess, Haslam died back at the mill.  

Hayhurst and Phillips say more could have been done to prevent this accident.

Phillips says vehemently that teens, of Haslam’s age, with little Mill experience should be working in groups, not working alone, like Haslam was that night.

A sentiment shared by Hayhurst who adds that extra precautions have been taken since the incident including a buddy-system.

A huge area of concern for the inquest will regard the ‘lock-out’ or securing and turn-off of the machines, before cleaning staff comes in. A step, according to several at the inquest, that could have allegedly saved Haslam’s life.

According to Inquest Counsel John Orr, the conveyor belt was running before he got caught, so it begs the question as to whether it should have been turned off, locked off or off limits to employees entirely.

Monday, the jury heard from nine witnesses, starting with Bradley Haslam’s mother Denise Wilson who offered tears, kind words about her son and a plea for better safety measures to prevent something like this from happening to another child.

She brought in two large framed photographs of her son, which will remain in the courtroom for the entire proceedings.

The four-day inquest is being presented in front of seven jurors, who will hear from 21 witnesses with the goal of presenting recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.

As well the jury in a coroner’s inquest is expected to ascertain publicly the facts relating to the death including; the identity of the deceased, as well as how, when, where and by what means he or she died. In addition, the inquest intends to satisfy the community that the circumstances surround the death of one of its members will not be overlooked, concealed or ignored.

Presiding Coroner T.E. Chico Newell over sees the inquest, and lawyers include Inquest Counsel Orr, as well as two representatives each from WorkSafe BC, Tolko Industries and the United Steelworkers.

The inquest is expected to last until Thursday. Tuesday the jury and preceding participants will take a tour of the Mill itself to better set the scene for jurors.

The inquest is open to the public and is being held in the large Supreme Courtroom #301 at the Vernon Law Courts.


Traffic stop payout

One traffic stop has a Fort St. John man in a lot of trouble after he was found in a stolen car, under the influence and without a valid driver’s license.

RCMP Spokesman Gord Molendyk says officers were conducting routine traffic stops on Saturday evening when they caught the man.

They stopped him in a black Dodge Dakota with stolen plates, around 11:20 p.m. in the 4600 block of 27th Avenue.

Molendyk says they immediately arrested the 25-year-old driver for stolen property. and noticed the smell of liquor on his breath.

“He failed the ASD (Alcohol Screening Device),” explains Molendyk. “To add to his problems he was found to have a criminal code conviction for impaired driving from 2012, and it was learned he also had no valid driver’s license.”

Police then conducted a search of the vehicle discovering a sawed off shotgun and hunting rifle, for which he did not hold a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). 

RCMP say there were passengers in the vehicle with him that were allowed to go.

The suspect has been charged with several offences including no license, no insurance and firearms charges.

Molendyk says he was also served suspension notices, as well as a notice to seek greater punishment because of previous impaired driving offences. 

Search for guns yields drugs

North Okanagan RCMP who were on a search for stolen firearms found more than they were looking for.

Last Friday, RCMP executed a search warrant on an Enderby home with the hope of recovering stolen firearms taken earlier in the month.

Instead of guns, says RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk, cops ended up discovering a large quantity of drugs.

“A large quantity of cash, cocaine, and other drug related items were found in the residence, the guns were not recovered in the search,” says Molendyk.

A 35-year-old man was arrested at the home in the 1900 block of George Street. Two other people located in the home were released without charges.

The suspect has been released for a future court date to face drug trafficking charges. 


Inquest into workplace death

A public inquest into the death of Bradley Michael Thomas Haslam is scheduled to begin today in Vernon.

The 18-year-old Lumby man died in June of 2013, after a workplace incident at the Tolko planer mill in Lavington.

T.E. Chico Newell will preside over the inquest as a jury will hear from witnesses under oath to determine the facts surrounding this death.

At its conclusion, the jury will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing similar incidents from happening.

Haslam, who had just celebrated his high school graduation in the month before the accident, had been working an overnight shift at the mill when he was found by co-workers the following morning.

$70 million for water projects

The municipal election is not the only vote Vernon area residents will be casting on Nov. 15.

The Regional District of the North Okanagan is asking the public to approve a $70 million loan for water infrastructure improvements. The loan would be paid off over 20 years, similar to a mortgage.

Greater Vernon Water established a master plan in 2012 that identified six priority projects with a total cost of more than $68 million.

Throughout September and October of 2014, open houses have been held to give the public information before the vote on Nov. 15. 

"Are you in favour of the Regional District of North Okanagan adopting Bylaw No. 2629, being "Greater Vernon Water 2012 Master Water Plan Phase 1 Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 2629, 2014" which authorizes the Regional District of North Okanagan to borrow an amount not to exceed SEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS ($70,000,000.00) for the purpose of paying the costs to plan, design and construct the Phase 1 projects of the 2012 Greater Vernon Water Master Water Plan," reads the website.

The first project would be installing a filtration plant at the Duteau Creek water treatment facility. This project is worth an estimated $26.5 million. 

The cost of all projects are estimated in 2012 dollars. It is unclear how much those numbers will have changed since then.

The projects can be viewed on an interactive map on the RDNO website.

The RDNO says the upgrades are required for two reasons:

1) To stay in step with provincial regulations for water quality.

2) To maintain supply for agriculture, fire fighting and drinking

By volume, Greater Vernon Water is the fourth largest water utility in BC, delivering an average of 24 billion litres of water to customers each year. More than 12 billion litres are used by agriculture each year.

The next public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 28 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the RDNO board room in Coldstream. 

#redbagchallenge blood drive

Inspired by a young boy with cancer and the ALS ice bucket challenge, a Vernon couple are trying to create a social media furor around donating blood.

Glenn and Lisa Gallie are encouraging everyone they know to donate blood on camera and to nominate their own friends and family to do the same. 

"When I was there giving blood, the lady told me they have a three day threshold," Glenn Gallie said. "She said 'this blood I'm taking from you today will be in someone else in three days."

Gallie said after they heard that, his wife Lisa got her phone out and took a video of Glenn's donation. 

They posted their video to YouTube with the hashtag #redbagchallenge and Glenn nominated three of his friends, whom he says now have appointments to donate. 

"We did the ice bucket challenge, and it's great they're raising money," he said. "Not everyone has money, but everybody has blood and it's really simple to give." 

They are trying to jumpstart a viral social media campaign in hopes of boosting the stock of blood in BC and Canada. 

"You can just drop in, you dont have to have an appointment. Not a lot of people realize that you don't necessarily have to have an appointment to give blood." 

"The need for blood never goes away, and it doesn't get the press it deserves" Gallie said. "It's a 30 to 45 minute investment and you're in and you're out and they give you cookies and juice, how good is that?" 

They have been inspired by a young boy in Vernon named Eli who is battling cancer. Eli is using a lot of blood in his struggle and his grandmother is continually thanking donors on Facebook. 

"You have no options if there is no blood available," Gallie said. 

The couple's campaign is aligned with a blood drive in Vernon at the Trinity Church, being held from Oct. 22 to the 24.

"The least we could do is try to get that clinic filled up and sold out."

Lisa and Glenn stress that the nomination part is crucial to making the #redbagchallenge hashtag go viral. 

"We will [keep it up] this is just the BEGINNING!" Lisa said.

Contributed Lisa Gallie

Pumpkin festival kicks off

The Davison Orchards Family Pumpkin Festival is on this weekend and next, bringing families to Vernon for a full day of activities.

The festival includes pumpkin picking, story time and face painting. It runs Oct. 18/19 and 24/25.

Activities include U-Pick Pumpkins, where families can ride the Johnny Popper Orchard Train to the pumpkin patch and pick their own jack-o-lanterns. Tours run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the cost is $9 for a tour and one pumpkin.

There is also the story of Spookley the Square Pumpkin. Spookley is a square pumpkin in a round pumpkin world, stories about his adventures and determination are told at 11:30 a.m. both days in the Crazy Cow kids' corral.

Assorted Pumpkin Treats and Sweets are available including:

  • Pumpkin Pie 
  • Pumpkin Cake 
  • Pumpkin Muffins 
  • Pumpkin Steamers 
  • Pumpkin Fudge 
  • Caramel Apples 

"Come for a treat and warm drink in the Deep Dish Cafe, or take a pie home to the family," said Shane Landreville, marketing coordinator for Davison Orchards in an email. 


  • $5 face painting,
  • Learn to juggle or watch the young pro's: The jugglers are on site from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and leading 'Learn to Juggle' workshops at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30pm.
  • Live music courtesy of the students from the 29th Street Music Studio, performing on-stage with the Pumpkin Butter Band!


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