Candlelight vigils for victims of crane collapse


UPDATE: 5:08 a.m. July 16

The five men who died in the crane collapse in downtown Kelowna Monday will be remembered at a vigil tonight.

It's been organized by the North Okanagan Labour Council.

And takes place at 14-71 St. Paul Street at 9pm.

UPDATE: 4:22 p.m. July 15

Outside experts are being brought in to continue the meticulous work on the disassembly and removal of the collapsed crane in downtown Kelowna. While this work progresses, the Evacuation Order will remain in effect for the affected area.

The Evacuation Order remains in effect for the following addresses:

  • 1450 Bertram St
  • 105, 1449 St. Paul St
  • 1464 Bertram St
  • 106 1449 St. Paul St
  • 1468 Bertram St
  • 200 1449 St. Paul St
  • 1476 Bertram St
  • 200A 1449 St. Paul St
  • 1488 Bertram St
  • 201 1449 St. Paul St
  • 1441 St. Paul St
  • 202 1449 St. Paul St
  • 100, 1449 St. Paul St

UPDATE: 6:56 a.m. July 15

There is a growing memorial near the site of the crane collapse in downtown Kelowna.

Messages to lost loved ones on a board with the Canadian flag.  It reads "Building Canada."

Cailen Vilness was one of the young men who died in the collapse.

"He was very outgoing," says his father, Chris Vilness, who visited the site yesterday. "A very caring, loving kid. This is devastating. It's not something I would wish on anyone."

Chris was emotional as he talked about why this happened, won't change anything.

"Is it going to bring Cailen back? It's not going to bring Cailen back. I'm not here to pointing fingers. I'm not here to point blame. There was an accident."

Brothers Eric and Patrick Stemmer and Jared Zook also died in the collapse.

Jared's father says his family deeply misses him.

"He was a very gentle spirit," says Steve Zook. "Always a grin on his face. Every picture you take, there was a grin on his face."

The name of a fifth person, whose body was recovered yesterday, has not yet been released. 

UPDATE: 4:13 p.m. July 14

The collapsed crane at the construction site in downtown Kelowna is being disassembled in stages, the first said to be successful. 

Central Okanagan Regional District has lifted evacuation orders for a handful of properties. 

  • 547 Bernard Ave
  • 108, 591 Bernard Ave
  • 549 Bernard Ave
  • 200, 591 Bernard Ave
  • 565 Bernard Ave
  • 597 Bernard Ave
  • 567 Bernard Ave
  • 612 Bernard Ave
  • 571 Bernard Ave
  • 1475 Bertram Street
  • 575 Bernard Ave 

St. Paul St. is open to pedestrians only, but all businesses on St. Paul St. and Bernard Ave are open. Bernard Ave remains closed to vehicles at Richter St. and open to pedestrian traffic only.

Evacuation orders remain for a number of properties on Bertram and St. Paul. 

A memorial has been set up beside the construction site with photos of the deceased, flowers, and letters. 

Businesses have joined in supporting the families by putting hi-vis vests on display outside the storefront. 

UPDATE: 7:30 a.m. July 14

A specialized team has recovered a fifth body from the scene of the Kelowna crane collapse.

A spokesperson for the Canada Task Force, made up of a team of firefighters, paramedics and engineers, says the body was recovered early Wednesday morning.

The Kelowna area man is believed to have been working in an adjacent building when the crane went down, burying him in under the rubble, according to an RCMP release.

Five people died when a crane attached to a high-rise building under construction suddenly collapsed Monday morning while in the process of being dismantled.

"When we arrived on site, we met with the structural collapse engineer already onsite from Kelowna as well as the engineer from the crane company and used them to access their perspective s far as hazards.,” said Asst. Chief Dave Boone, director of Canada Task Force 1.

"We of course do our own assessment as well…we engage with our own structural engineer," he explained.

He says the operation was fairly complex with respect to the unsecured load that remained in the building above the victim. He says the team came up with a plan to secure the load.

"Once able to do that, we could remove some debris from the victim and extract the fifth victim," he said.

One of the men who died was Jared Zook, a 32-year-old who had moved from Edmonton to work as a crane rigger.

His parents told CTV News Tuesday, while visiting the site, that Zook loved his job.

Two others were identified in an online fundraiser as brothers Patrick and Eric Stemmer, whose family business, Stemmer Construction, was also involved in the building of Brooklyn Tower in downtown Kelowna.

Another victim identified as Cailen Vilness on social media.

The boom of the crane was extended toward the top of the tower, which will be 25 storeys high when completed, when it came crashing down, striking buildings below.

A sixth person was injured in the incident and taken to hospital for treatment of what the RCMP described as non-life-threatening injuries.

It is not yet known what caused the collapse, and investigations are being conducted by both the local RCMP detachment and officials with WorkSafeBC, the province's workers' compensation board.

“Everyone involved in this tragic scene has worked tirelessly to bring the search for victims to an end,” says Insp. Adam MacIntosh of the Kelowna RCMP. “At this time, we do not believe there are any other persons who were injured or killed as a result of the collapse of this crane. Our deepest condolences go to the family, friends, and coworkers of those who were lost here.”

WorkSafeBC, the BC Coroners Service and the Kelowna RCMP are continuing their concurrent investigations into this incident today.

The Evacuation Order remains in effect as efforts continue to further secure and dismantle the crane. Once this has been accomplished, a reassessment will be done to determine if it is safe to rescind or reduce that order and allow residents and businesses to return. It is hoped that this can happen within the next day. Updated information can be obtained on the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations website.

If you witnessed this incident, have not yet spoken to police, or have any information about this incident, you are urged to call the Kelowna RCMP Serious Crime Unit at 250-762-3300.

UPDATE: 5:32 a.m. July 14

The names of four people who died in the collapse of a construction crane in downtown Kelowna on Monday have been indentified. 

Jared Zook, brothers Eric and Patrick Stemmer and Cailen Vilness.

Police say the body of a fifth person is under the wreckage of the crane. Recovery efforts in finding the body of the missing man is being done by a team of specialized first responders

Assistant fire chief David Boone with Vancouver Fire/Rescue leads that team. It includes firefighters, police and paramedics and an engineer. 

It's one of six such teams in Canada. 

UPDATE:  5:30 p.m. July 13

State of local emergency and evacuation order remain in place for downtown Kelowna crane collapse.

Engineers and other professionals are at the incident site on Bernard Ave between St. Paul and Bertram Streets to conduct assessments and safety plans to determine the next steps and safest course of action for the disassembly of the collapsed crane. The disassembly is likely to take place in stages and while it is anticipated that the first stage, if completed successfully, will result in a partial rescinding of the evacuation order, it is not expected to happen until sometime on Wednesday, July 14.  

Therefore, the evacuation order remains in place for the following addresses:

  • 547 – 612 Bernard Ave
  • 1450 – 1488 Bertram Street
  • 1441 – 1471 St. Paul Street

Residents initially evacuated from the downtown Kelowna area by the RCMP at the time of the crane incident and whose addresses are not included in the above list can return to their residences or places of work.

This continues to be an evolving situation and the incident site and its surrounding area remain unsafe and unstable. Road and sidewalk closures, including barricades, are in place to ensure safety. Residents and visitors are to stay out of the area.

Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) staff continue to work with other response agencies to support the incident response and evacuees. As a reminder, individuals on the evacuation order can go to the reception centre at 1480 Sutherland Avenue (Salvation Army) to access Emergency Support Services (ESS). For current information on this incident visit Central Okanagan Emergency operations online. Please do not contact the Salvation Army directly.

The EOC extends many thanks to the ESS volunteers who have been instrumental in providing support and comfort for the individuals evacuated. Victim Services has also provided much needed support for the families of loved ones lost in this tragedy.

Any new information will be released as it becomes available.

- with files from Central Okanagan Emergency Operations -

UPDATE: 12:00 p.m. July 13

RCMP confirm five deaths in the collapse of a construction crane in downtown Kelowna Monday morning.

Four were workers on the construction site. The fifth person, in an adjacent building is buried in rubble.  The body has not yet been recovered.

An injured worker was taken to hospital and later released.

The blocks around the construction site remain closed as investigators continue to do their work and an assessment is made on the remaining crane assembly still attached to the building.

Some areas around the building on Bernard Avenue could open later today, if recovery efforts are successful.

UPDATE: 4:12 a.m. July 13

An investigation has begun into yesterday's construction crane collapse in downtown Kelowna. WorkSafeBC will be on site today.

A structural engineer has been brought in to assess the safety of the portion of crane still attached to the building.

What caused the crane's top half to topple isn't known yet. The collapse knocked out power for most of the downtown core and forced evacuations.

The area around the site is cordoned off. Evacuees from surrounding buildings are being cared for by the Salvation Army.

UPDATE: 2:33 a.m. July 13

The head of the company developing the Brooklyn site in downtown Kelowna, says yesterday's crane collapse was a terrible accident.

"Our corporate priority is of course for the safety of all of our workers," says Mission Group CEO John Freisen. "We want them to go home at the end of the day healthy and safe. That did not happen today. Any words I could come up with pale in the shadow of so great a loss for these families." 

"I can confirm they were not Mission Group employees," says Freisen. "That does not change the fact that people died today. Let's keep that that in mind. It doesn't matter whose employees they were. They were on our site and as a result of their work they did lose their lives."

A witness at the scene described what he saw after the collapse, as it hit a seniors home.

"Obviously it had gone through the roof of the building next door," says Jorma Jrykannen. "They were desperately trying to get the crane operator out. They managed to get him out. His face was covered with blood, and they were screaming "Get back! Get back!" 

Minister of Labour, Harry Bains issued the following statement on the tragedy.

"I am deeply saddened to hear about the terrible incident involving a construction crane in Kelowna today. My thoughts are with the workers affected, and I send my sincere condolences to the families, friends and co-workers of the victims.

"Every worker has the right to return home safely at the end of the day, and I feel awful for the loved ones and colleagues impacted by this tragedy.

"All workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace - even one injury or death is too many. This is a heartbreaking reminder that we must strive to ensure the safety of all workers to prevent incidents like this from happening.

"I thank the emergency personnel and investigators now on scene. Agencies including WorkSafeBC, the BC Coroners Service and the RCMP are now investigating. We will have more to say as further details become available."

Kelowna RCMP will only say that there were multiple fatalities and they are working to notify families.

UPDATE: 3:00 p.m. July 12

Multiple fatalities have been confirmed and one person is still unaccounted for in this morning's crane collapse at a downtown Kelowna construction site. 

Inspector Adam MacIntosh says, "In these types of incidents that occur in a workplace, WorkSafeBC is responsible for the investigation and is supported by the RCMP. We currently are leading that investigation, helping them to collect information and evidence. That would include any video that would exist, so if somebody does have video of the event we encourage them to contact the RCMP or WorkSafeBC."

The area of Bernard and St Paul remains unstable and unsafe.

"The crane fell to the North striking the adjacent professional business building causing damage. The current extent of that damage is unknown. The crane also fell across the rear parkway striking the roof to an old age home that is on Bertram Rd in the 1450 block."

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m. July 12

An Emergency Operations Centre has been activated for those evacuated from the crane collapse. 

Evacuees can go to the Salvation Army at 1480 Sutherland Avenue.

Families of those injured or unaccounted for should go to the Parkinson Recreation Centre (McIntosh Room) at 1700 Parkinson Way.

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. July 12

We understand that two workers have been taken to hospital. One reported in critical conditon.There may be two workers still not accounted for. That information from construction workers gathered near the scene.

ORIGINAL: 11:30 a.m. July 12

A crane collapsed at a construction site at Bernard and St. Paul downtown this morning around 11.

Megan watched it fall, "I heard a lot of noise and then things started coming down. And then the middle buckled and it just came down."

Bystanders were shocked at what they saw.

We understand that two workers were taken to in critical condition.

AM1150 is attending a media briefing at the main Kelowna Fire Hall.

We'll provide more information when our reporter returns.

RCMP have closed Bernard, St. Paul, Doyle and Bertram to keep traffic away from the scene.

Pedestrians also advised to stay clear.