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This article was published 29/11/2010 (3787 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Manitoba business owner has been fined $33,500 for numerous workplace and safety violations which contributed to the death of a 15-year-old boy who was buried in burning asphalt.
Gerald Shepell, 48, owner of Interlake Paving, admitted earlier this month to breaching both the Workplace Health and Safety Act and Employment Standards Code in connection with the July 2008 tragedy just north of Winnipeg.
Andrew James died almost instantly when he became trapped underneath asphalt that spilled from a truck while working at a former Manitoba Hydro substation in Stony Mountain. Several co-workers, including Shepell, desperately tried to save the teen after he apparently lost his footing while shovelling asphalt from a trailer box into a backhoe scoop. The company was dumping asphalt into a massive pile to use for various projects around town when the accident occurred.
Provincial court Judge Kelly Moar said Monday the tragedy was entirely preventable.
"(Shepell) ignored the potential risks and, unfortunately, that cost Mr. James his life," said Moar.
The Crown was seeking significant fines against Shepell, who has owned the business since 2005 after taking it over from a family member. The maximum penalty was $180,000.
Defence lawyer Randy Minuk asked for a penalty not exceeding $30,000, saying anything more would likely put Shepell and his employees out of business.
Shepell was ordered Monday to pay $500 a month until the fine is paid off.
Provincial law requires all construction site employees to be at least 16 unless a special permit has been granted. Shepell admits James began working for him when he was just 14, along with another boy who was 13. The victim's parents were in court to support Shepell, saying they hold no ill will towards him for what happened. They previously told the Free Press they would help pay his fines if he were convicted and that they were thankful for the opportunity he gave their son.
The family had given Shepell permission to employ their son, who had been skipping school and frequently hanging out at job sites beginning at the age of 14, court was told. Shepell described him as a talented, hard-working teen who was "advanced" beyond his years.
"I was giving him work instead of schooling," Shepell told investigators. He said James had unloaded asphalt "hundreds of times" prior to the accident that ended his life.
Shepell still bears scars on his hands and arms from reaching into the asphalt, which was about 300 C, court was told.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.