Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Genuine' man sorely missed

Killed while operating machinery Thursday

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BRANDON -- Friends and family are mourning the loss of an RM of North Cypress man they described as "generous" and "genuine."

Matthew McConnell, 24, died early Thursday following a workplace accident at a gravel quarry near Alexander.

"Our family is devastated by this loss," McConnell's family said in a statement issued by his cousin, Avery Wolaniuk.

"Matthew was an incredible person -- hard-working, generous and full of fun. He brought joy with him wherever he was.

"Matthew would talk to anyone and everyone and was always stopping by to ask people how things were going. He worked hard no matter what job he was doing, but as a country kid, he waited all year for harvest season and a chance to get on a tractor."

McConnell was blessed with many friends and family, but was closest to his immediate family, his mother and father, Shannon and Graham, and sister, Donica.

He died about 2 a.m. Thursday while working a night shift at a company called Clint Moffat and Sons Ltd., about 10 kilometres northwest of Alexander. He became caught in a machine he was operating, a radial telescopic stacking conveyor designed to transport rock and sand on a conveyor belt, and was declared dead at the scene.

On social media, friends and family shared stories about McConnell, who "loved a night out or just sitting around with his friends, cheering on the Jets and the Bombers, his dogs and a good cold beer."

Even during this difficult time, the family thanked everyone for their support and condolences.

"We know we are not the only ones who are feeling lost without Matthew."

Brandon Crowe was a friend of McConnell since the two started kindergarten together in Neepawa.

Crowe said the news came as an incredible shock.

"It still hasn't hit me," he said. "There is no one I have ever met who had a bigger heart than he did."

Crowe called McConnell the life of the party, adding he was never afraid to say or do something a little bit goofy in order to put other people at ease and a smile on their face.

"He was a big-hearted, genuine person," Crowe said. "He made everyone laugh, and he was everyone's friend. I don't think he had a bad thing to say about anyone."

The two later attended college together in Brandon, and Crowe said McConnell became known for his fierce work ethic and dedication to loved ones.

"Family, friends and work -- those were the three things he loved," Crowe said.

It's not the first time his group of friends has suffered through tragedy. Twice, he's had to go through the loss of a friend who was taken too young. Crowe said in those times, McConnell was always available to talk to or share a story with.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 24, 2014 A14

History

Updated on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 2:07 PM CDT: The employee was operating a radial telescopic stacking conveyor.

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