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Man who suffered ‘catastrophic’ injuries in Chilliwack workplace accident awarded $15.5 million

‘Every aspect of Mr. Alvarado’s daily life has been adversely impacted by his injuries,’ judge said
WorkSafeBC found that a manufacturing defect was responsible for a concrete pumper truck suddenly collapsing on two workers, one of whom was killed, on a Garrison Crossing construction site on March 11, 2016. (Paul J. Henderson file/Chilliwack Progress file)

A man who suffered “catastrophic” injuries in a 2016 workplace accident in Chilliwack was awarded almost $15.5 million in damages in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Friday, Sept. 16.

Gerson Alvarado, 26, was rendered paraplegic in the sudden accident in Chilliwack that killed his co-worker, Sebastian Obando, on March 11, 2016, according to the decision on damages by Justice Michael Tammen.

It was a concrete placing boom extending from the pumper truck that fell and crushed the two workers, after a stabilizing leg on the equipment failed without warning.

Alvarado, the crew foreman, suffered spinal injuries, as well as broken vertebrae, ribs, sternum, and right femur, damaged lung, and lacerations to his liver, spleen and kidney.

But it was the spinal cord injury that was described as “the most severe” of all of his injuries, with the damage to the thoracic spine described as “complete” resulting in “complete loss of motor and sensory function below the level of the sternum.”

“Every aspect of Mr. Alvarado’s daily life has been adversely impacted by his injuries,” the justice’s decision underlined. “He now endures almost constant chronic pain, as well as episodic acute pain.”

Of the $15.5 million in damages, $3.1 million was for future wages, while another $9.7 million was for the cost of his future care.

Routine tasks such as “bathing, getting dressed, and bowel movements have become time-consuming daily chores.”

His future isn’t what it used to be.

“Prior to the accident,” the decision said, “Mr. Alvarado was physically active, and regularly playing soccer in a men’s league. He and his spouse enjoyed various physical activities together.

“They were planning to have a family. They have, through in-vitro methods, been able to have one child since the accident, but it is unlikely they will have another,” the decision reads.

The subsequent toll taken on “his psyche and general mental state” impacted Alvarado’s marriage, and relationships with other family members. He suffers from depression and anxiety since the accident.

The judge noted the plaintiff had been “just embarking on what looked to be an upward career trajectory in his chosen field,” having been promoted to a supervisory position with his employer, PSI Concrete Pumping.

The manufacturer of the equipment, KCP Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. was listed as the the sole defendant, and did not file a response to the claim.

RELATED: Manufacturing defect caused workplace accident

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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