Sentencing in the case against a placer mining company and one of its owners after the death of a worker in a bulldozer rollover accident in 2021 has resulted in $92,000 in fines and penalties being handed out in hearing on Thursday.
Richard “Red” Cull, 41, was killed on April 23, 2021 when a D-10N Caterpillar bulldozer he was driving rolled off the side of a winding mountainous access road to the Dawson City-area mine’s shop, flattening the cab with Cull inside, according to an agreed statement of facts in the case.
Stuart Placer Ltd. is to pay $56,000 in penalties and a $1,500 victim fine surcharge, while part-owner Roger Stuart is to pay $46,000 and a $750 surcharge. Both Stuart and the company will get six months of probation.
The Crown was seeking combined penalties of $115,000 plus a 15 per cent victim fine surcharge, while the defence was asking for $40,000 in penalties, plus the 15 per cent.
Counsel for the defence had argued the quick guilty plea, Stuart’s remorse and the small size of the company were all reasons for a reduced penalty.
Crown counsel Lee Kirkpatrick had countered that the penalties sought are already below the maximum and that the some of the offences have since had their maximum penalties increased.
It was decided that a portion of the money paid in penalties should go to a workers safety association.
The sentence orders Stuart to pay $28,750 and the company to pay $46,000 to the Northern Safety Network Yukon.
According to their website, the goal of the safety network is to foster a commitment to occupational health and safety in the Yukon and provide health and safety-related training and management.
There were initially seven charges in the case. In the end, Stuart pleaded guilty to two and the company pleaded guilty to two, with the rest of the charges stayed.
As Cull’s supervisor, Stuart pleaded guilty to knowingly permitting a worker to operate mobile equipment which was unsafe or could create an undue hazard to a worker and for failing to ensure work done under his direction and control was performed without undue risk.
The company pleaded guilty to failing to take all reasonable precautions and implement measures to prevent an occupational injury by eliminating hazards and for failing to have a rollover protective structure installed on a dozer weighing more than 700 kilograms.
The bulldozer was being delivered to the site. After several delays, it was decided by Cull and Stuart that Cull should drive the bulldozer down the last leg of the road, even though necessary safety equipment had not been installed.
Rollover-protection and ice-gripping devices were still sitting at the end of the road in the mine’s shop when Cull hit an icy patch and the bulldozer rolled several hundred metres down a slope before coming to rest on the other side of a creek.
Stuart told the court last month he takes full responsibility for the accident, while expressing his remorse at losing a long-time friend.
“I lost my best friend that day,” Stuart said.
“Nothing’s gonna change that.”