The widow of an office worker who died nearly two years ago in a crane collapse in downtown Kelowna, BC, has filed a lawsuit alleging the construction company’s negligence led to her husband’s death.
Helen Furuya lost her husband, Brad Zawislak, when the steel crane crashed into his office building on July 12, 2021.
“As a result of the aforementioned accident, Brad Zawislak was killed, depriving his wife of his love, guidance, care, services, training and financial support,” reads a claim filed Wednesday in the BC Supreme Court.
Five people died in the incident, which took place at the construction site of the Brooklyn at Bernard Block condo tower.
The lawsuit is the first claim from the victims’ families as they await answers from ongoing criminal investigations and workplace investigations.
Crane crashed into office while victim was at work
According to the claim, Zawislak, 43, was working as a senior technologist for Protech Consulting when he died. The office of the civil engineering firm is located next to the construction zone.
Zawislak was buried under rubble when the crane crashed into his building. A specialized search and rescue team found his body almost two days later.
“With a larger than life personality, Brad perfectly embodied all the traits that Protech strives to uphold in everything we do. His friendly, hard-working, jack-of-all-trades mentality is irreplaceable,” the company said on its website.
“Brad had an inspiring ability to balance his work and family life and left everyone he met constantly motivated to become a better person. Brad will always be remembered and will always be a part of the Protech team. “
At the time, RCMP said the crane was in the process of being dismantled when something “catastrophic” happened around 10:45 a.m.
Mounties and WorkSafeBC launched parallel investigations, but have since released little information to the public.
In this spring’s joint update, Mounties said investigators are still determining whether crimes were committed.
A statement said officers were going through “thousands of evidence” and could not provide more information “to protect the integrity” of the investigation.
WorkSafeBC said its investigation is complete, but the agency has not made its findings public under an agreement with police.
Construction workers Cailen Vilness and Jared Zook were among those killed in the collapse, as were brothers Eric and Patrick Stemmer. The brothers worked for the family business Stemmer Construction, which had a contract to operate the crane.
Stemmer Construction is the only named defendant in Furuya’s lawsuit.
The company has not filed a response to the court.