WorkSafeBC has concluded a manufacturing defect was to blame for a concrete pumper truck collapsing and killing 24-year-old Sebastian Gomez at a Garrison Crossing construction site on March 11, 2016. (Paul J. Henderson file/Black Press)

WorkSafeBC has concluded a manufacturing defect was to blame for a concrete pumper truck collapsing and killing 24-year-old Sebastian Gomez at a Garrison Crossing construction site on March 11, 2016. (Paul J. Henderson file/Black Press)

Judge awards $875,000 to family of deceased Chilliwack construction site worker

Sebastian Gomez died in March of 2016 when a concrete placing boom fell on him

The family of Sebastian Gomez has been awarded $875,000 in compensation for his workplace death six years ago.

The 24-year-old was killed Mar. 11, 2016 when the concrete placing boom on a KC’s Pumping Services concrete pumper truck collapsed. It fell on Gomez, who was working as a concrete placer at a 53-unit townhouse complex in Garrison Crossing.

Gomez’s family sought compensation from KCP Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., the South Korean-based company that manufactured the concrete pumper truck. A WorkSafeBC report found a manufacturer’s defect was to blame for the accident.

Handing down a judgement in BC Supreme Court on Wednesday, Justice F. Matthew Kirchner awarded a total of $588,000 to account for Loss of Financial Support (future earnings). Kirchner noted that while Gomez had worked several low-paying jobs in the years leading up to the accident, by the time of his death “he had established himself in the concrete industry.”

“There is significant evidence about his strong work ethic, his skill as a tradesperson, and his commitment to providing financial stability and support for his family,” Kirchner wrote.

RELATED: Equipment malfunction blamed in Chilliwack workplace death

The judge awarded $372,000 to Gomez’s partner, identified in court documents as Ms. Valencia-Palacio. The judge awarded $78,000 to the couple’s first child and $79,000 to their second, with a further $60,000 going to Gomez’s parents.

Both of Gomez’s children were awarded $45,000 for Loss of Guidance, often referred to as the loss of “care, guidance and affection.”

“The evidence is clear that Mr. Gomez wanted to have a family, was excited each time Ms. Valencia-Palaciao became pregnant, and was actively involved in the lives of his children,” Kirchner noted. “Mr. Gomez also expressed a goal of giving his children the ability to pursue post-secondary education without fear of where they would live or how they would pay for it.”

Both children and their mother received $20,000 apiece for Loss of Inheritance.

Valencia-Palacio was awarded $50,000 for Loss of Household Services, with the children receiving $25,000 each.

An additional $36,643.45 was given under the Special Damages heading, a chunk of that meant to cover funeral expenses. After Gomez died, his remains were returned to his home country of Colombia. Valencia-Palacio obtained a special container to preserve the remains during air transport and bought a traditional casket for the Colombian ceremony. She purchased return-trip airplane tickets for herself, her two children, and Gomez’s parents and brother.

The remainder of the Special Damages covered child-care expenses in the immediate aftermath of Gomez’s death ($10,037.60) and health care costs related to grief counselling ($1,605).

Soon after Gomez died, a GoFundMe was started to help his family, raising $24,311.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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