A deadly 24 hour-period involving two of British Columbia’s biggest industries — tourism and movie production — is keeping Vancouver Police investigators busy.
Around 10 a.m. on Aug. 13, a Capilano Suspension Bridge-contracted Vancouver Trolley Company tourbus rolled downhill on Canada Place Way, near the Vancouver Convention Centre, into an SUV. Three pedestrians from Massachusetts were pinned underneath. One of them, 49-year-old Dr. Michael Plevyak of Springfield, Mass., died later in hospital.
Around 8:20 a.m. on Aug. 14, a stuntwoman driving a motorcycle on the Deadpool 2 movie production crashed into the window of the nearly vacant, ground floor community access TV studio at Shaw Tower.
The script for the scene, which began across the street near the Jack Poole Plaza Olympic cauldron, called for the woman’s character to be helmetless. Jack Poole Plaza is part of the B.C. Pavilion Corporation-managed Vancouver Convention Centre complex. Both civic and provincial officials have permitted filming of the sequel on public property and promoted its presence in the city. Vancouver-born star Ryan Reynolds took to Twitter with a statement that said, in part: “We’re heartbroken, shocked and devastated.”
Shaw Tower is, coincidentally, next door to the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel, where B.C.-based Glee star Cory Monteith died July 13, 2013 of heroin and alcohol abuse.
The Aug. 13-14 accidents recalled Dec. 2, 2010, a deadly day in another dynamic B.C. industry: construction.
That was when two construction workers died in separate incidents on seperate sites, just a couple of blocks apart in the same area. Dan Martens was fatally struck by falling wood or concrete at Aspac’s Three Harbour Green condo tower at the foot of Thurlow Street. Only 20 minutes later and two blocks away, BirdAir subcontractor Diego Herrera fell more than 30 feet off the iconic Canada Place five sails, which were being replaced. The construction manager on both sites was Ledcor, whose late founder, William Lede, was fatally buried under gravel at an Edmonton construction site in 1980.
Vancouver Trolley Company was sold in June to the Robert Safrata-owned West Coast Sightseeing; the Capilano Suspension Bridge contract precedes the sale, but ex-VTC owner Jim Storie declined comment.
Capilano Suspension Bridge vice-president Sue Kaffka said: “We offer our sincere condolences to the people who were involved in this accident and to their families and friends.” Kaffka declined further comment.
VTC general manager Stuart Coventry told reporters on Aug. 14 that the driver is a seven-year veteran of the company with a clean driving record and buses are independently tested every six months. Coventry did not name names or provide documentation to substantiate his claims. UPDATE (Aug. 15): theBreaker asked Coventry to provide the inspection, maintenance and replacement dates for bus 207’s brakes and tires, as well as the number of kilometres on its odometer. He declined to answer.
“We anticipate the scope of your questions will be covered by the ongoing VPD investigation,” Coventry wrote. “We do not want to impact that investigation in any way and will therefore not be making any further comment beyond our two statements and media availability yesterday.”
Passenger Transportation Board regulates licensed passenger vehicles, such as shuttle vans and intercity buses. The board is chaired by Don Zurowski, a BC Liberal patronage appointee who is a former Prince George city councillor. His appointment lasts until the end of September.
The related Passenger Transportation Branch deals with compliance and enforcement of commercial passsenger transportation companies. Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement Branch audits 13 carriers annually. Its deputy director, Cole Delisle, refused to comment.
Late last year, the provincial government published the Stantec-authored Motor Coach Safety Review to “evaluate BC motor coach safety trends, review collision statistics, regulations relative to other jurisdictions, and assess best practices in other jurisdictions.”
It found serious collisions on B.C. highways fell 5.4% annually and driver-related causes accounted 80% of the collisions. Drivers are evaluated every five years until age 45, when they must be graded every three years. At age 65, it is annual. Mechanical inspection of motorcoaches is required every six months.
Meanwhile, Deadline Hollywood reported that the deceased stuntwoman was veteran road racer, but movie rookie, Joi Harris. The website claimed, via unnamed sources, that the production “is enduring very long hours.”
UPDATE: An Aug. 15 WorkSafeBC incident report addressed to TCF Vancouver Productions Ltd., released Aug. 18 to theBreaker, gave a brief description of the incident:
“The worker had been rehearsing a stunt scene that involved driving a motorcycle, Ducati 939 Hyperstrada, out of the open doors of a building, across a concrete pad and down a ramp that had been built over three stairs and coming to a stop on the stair landing. During the first shooting of the scene the stunt driver continued driving beyond the planned stopping spot on the stairway landing, and continued to drive down a second ramp built over the bottom stairs and across the roadway. The motorcycle struck the concrete sidewalk curb, the worker was thrown off the motorcycle and propelled through a plate glass window of a building.”
A full report from TCF is due to be submitted to WorkSafeBC by Sept. 13.
Have you worked in the tourbus industry or movie and TV production industry in British Columbia? Have you witnessed unsafe or unhealthy work? Please contact theBreaker in confidence. Click here.