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Canfor mill worker dies 12 days after being electrocuted

VANCOUVER (From news reports) -- A Prince George pipefitter who was injured in an industrial accident while working at Intercontinental Pulp Mill on Jan. 31 has died.

The man, identified by a family friend as 45-year-old Gary Lefebvre, was operating an electric hoist attached to an overhead monorail in the mill when he was electrocuted.

According to WorkSafeBC, "the worker was holding the control pendant and leaning on a metal guardrail to view the area of the lift when they collapsed. An exposed 347-volt conductor was subsequently found on the electric hoist power cable in close proximity to where the worker had been."

WorkSafeBC spokesperson Ashley Gregerson said that due to privacy requirements she was unable to publicly comment on the extent of injuries Lefebvre suffered in the accident.

"I can confirm that WorkSafeBC is investigating a serious incident that occurred in Prince George on Jan. 31, 2024," said Gregerson. "The purpose of our investigation is to identify the cause of the incident, including any contributing factors, so that similar incidents can be prevented from happening in the future. We are not able to provide any additional details while the investigation is underway."

As the regulator for occupational health and safety in the province, WorkSafeBC is mandated by law to investigate serious workplace incidents, including those that resulted in the death or serious injury of a worker or had the potential to cause serious injury.

The cause of Lefebvre's death has yet to be released by the BC Coroner.

The person who contacted local media said Lefebvre's family was wondering why the news media was not given any notice of the accident.

She said the electric shock stopped Lefevre's heart but he was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation at the scene, which revived him before he was transported to UHNBC. He spent four days in hospital before being sent home. He was at home with his wife and their six-year-old son when he died suddenly on Feb. 11.

"He was in hospital for four days and was cleared by three cardiologists, including an electrical specialist (from) Vancouver, and six days after he got home he died," the woman said. "He was a healthy man, there's no way it wasn't related to the electrocution."

Lefebvre was a longtime mill employee who moved to the Intercon Mill from the adjacent Prince George Specialty Paper Mill last year, after it closed its pulp division.

His death was confirmed Tuesday by Chuck LeBlanc, Local 9 president of the Public and Private Workers of Canada.

The mill, at 2533 Prince George Pulp Mill Rd., is owned by Canfor.

"On February 11, we were saddened to learn of the tragic passing of a longtime Canfor Pulp employee, Gary Lefebvre, at his home from what we understand to be a second cardiac-related medical event after an initial workplace heart attack 11 days earlier," said Rosemary Silva, Canfor's manager community relations.

"We are working cooperatively with authorities, including WorkSafeBC and Technical Safety BC, to complete a thorough investigation that will help us understand the root cause of his death and to learn everything we can from this tragedy. Until that time, our focus is on supporting Gary's family and colleagues during this very sad time."

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