Crown petitions court to hold evidence related to downtown Kelowna crane collapse

Cops seek to hold evidence

The criminal investigation into the tragic collapse of a crane in Kelowna's downtown core continues a year on, with the Crown seeking to extend its seizure of some pieces of evidence Thursday.

Four young construction workers – Cailen Vilness, Jared Zook, and Patrick and Eric Stemmer – were killed on July 12, 2021 when they were taking down a large tower crane at the Mission Group's Bernard Block project.

In the collapse, the crane boom struck another adjacent building, killing Brad Zawislak who was inside.

Following the horrific incident, WorkSafeBC, the BC Coroners Service and the RCMP all began independent, parallel investigations into what led to the fatal collapse.

During a court appearance Thursday morning, the Crown applied for the further detention of items seized by police from Stemmer Construction Ltd. at the beginning of the investigation. Stemmer Construction had been contracted by Mission Group to operate the crane.

Under Section 490(3) of the Canadian Criminal Code, the Crown must get permission from a judge to hold onto seized items longer than one year, if the judge finds the investigation is of a “complex nature.”

Justice Briana Hardwick sealed Thursday's proceedings, so all submissions made during the hearing are covered under a sweeping publication ban.

The RCMP investigation into the collapse is still ongoing, and no criminal charges have been laid in relation to the fatal incident.

Justice Hardwick reserved her decision on the Crown's application to a later date.

Earlier this week, during a memorial service marking the one-year anniversary of the incident, WorkSafeBC's Jessica Berglund said their investigation is nearing its end.

“The primary purpose of the WorkSafe BC investigation is to identify what caused this incident including the contributing factors,” Berglund said. “Our investigation is still underway, but we are getting very close to completion and I am very pleased to say the majority of the work has been done.”

During the memorial, Vilness' mother, Danielle Pritchett, blamed “pressure, timelines and budget” for her son's death.

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