South Surrey resident Aaron Sigmund – an icon for drug recovery in the community – was killed in a workplace accident in July 2009.

South Surrey resident Aaron Sigmund – an icon for drug recovery in the community – was killed in a workplace accident in July 2009.

Company fined $140,000 in connection to workplace death

A company charged under the Canada Labour Code in connection with the July 2009 death of South Surrey resident Aaron Sigmund has been fined $140,000 in Surrey Provincial Court.

The judgment against Fraser River Pile & Dredge (GP) Inc. – to be paid in six quarterly installments – was rendered March 15, but only posted online this week.

In his reasons for sentence, Judge R.D. Miller noted the company pleaded guilty to failing to install guards, guardrails, barricades and fences on the starboard side of a dredge, “the direct result of which was the death of Aaron Sigmund.”

The 38-year-old died July 9, 2009, when he was crushed by a hydraulic counterweight while working on a routine painting job on a cutter-section dredge.

“He placed himself in an area where he was at risk of being pinned and suffocated by a piece of machinery,” the court document states. “This is, in fact, what happened.”

Sigmund was an icon for drug recovery. Eight years clean and sober at the time of his death, Sigmund’s story of overcoming a heroin addiction helped many in the recovery community in their own battles against drugs and alcohol.

Following news of his death, Surrey Coun. Judy Villeneuve described him as someone who “overcame so many difficulties in his life to turn his life around and become a really responsible citizen and young father.”

In rendering the sentence against Fraser River Pile & Dredge, Miller notes “the corporate defendant was not vigilant in assessing their workplace for safety violations.”

“They are justifiably proud of aspects of their corporate behaviour as regards (to) worker safety, but it was not enough and a good man died.”

Miller also considered immediate steps taken by the company to identify and rectify the deficiencies that led to Sigmund’s death, including co-operating fully in the investigation into what happened.

Noting imposing a monetary penalty in cases where someone has died “always seems to me to be bordering upon disrespect,” Miller said the $140,000 penalty is “a fit sentence.” As well, it was agreed on by Crown and defence counsel, he notes.

The maximum penalty Miller could have imposed was $1 million.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

File photo
Surrey to borrow $150 million for three major recreation projects

That’s for a sports complex in the city centre, a sports and ice complex in Cloverdale and a community centre in Newton

A memorial remains near the site of where South Surrey mechanic Paul Prestbakmo was killed in August 2019. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Langley activist Dorscie Paterson celebrated her 108th birthday on Monday, Jan. 25 at the Cedar Hill long term care facility. Because of the pandemic, she remained inside, able to see, but not shake hands with visitors. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Celebrating a 108th birthday without physical contact

Pandemic required Langley woman to stay behind a window

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
5 big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

Most Read