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Company to pay $30K after worker crushed to death at Dieppe job site

Jamie Harris was crushed to death last August at this job site on Ulysse Drive in Dieppe. (Pierre Fournier/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Jamie Harris was crushed to death last August at this job site on Ulysse Drive in Dieppe. (Pierre Fournier/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A southeast New Brunswick excavation company has been ordered to pay $30,000 after a workplace death in Dieppe last year.

Perfection Contracting was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to a charge it failed to properly maintain an excavator.

Jamie Harris, 42, was killed Aug. 21, 2023. The incident happened around 4:45 p.m. on Ulysse Drive, part of the Dover Estates mobile home park in Dieppe.

Crown prosecutor Guillaume Rigucci said the company dug a hole to find a leaking water pipe, but were unsuccessful.

Near the end of the day, Harris and another man were the only workers left at the job site as the hole was being filled back in.

Jamie Harris, 42, of Moncton died Aug. 21, 2023, in Dieppe.
Jamie Harris, 42, of Moncton died Aug. 21, 2023, in Dieppe.

Jamie Harris, 42, of Moncton died Aug. 21, 2023, in Dieppe. (Frenette Funeral Home)

Harris was raking around the front of the excavator. Rigucci said he then went behind the machine to continue raking. The prosecutor said communication between the two workers broke down.

The prosecutor said the excavator operator backed up and then saw Harris's boot in front of the machine.

"It's at this point he realized he had backed up and ran over [Harris] with the excavator," Rigucci said.

The prosecutor said the charge was based on missing mirrors that would have allowed the operator to see behind the machine.

"That led to this unfortunate incident," Rigucci said.

Training fund

The Crown and Perfection Contracting's lawyer Shawn Dempsey jointly recommended a $25,000 payment to the New Brunswick Construction Safety Association that would be used for training around heavy equipment. A $5,000 victim fine surcharge was also recommended.

Provincial court Judge Yvette Finn accepted the recommendation after hearing two victim impact statements.

Melissa Lovell, Harris's fiancée, said the death of the father of two has affected many lives. She said he believed in helping others.

"I stand before you today a broken person who has lost every sense of normality," Lovell said.

Lovell said instead of planning their wedding, she was left planning his funeral.

Karen Poirier said in her statement that her younger brother was kind, loving, and had a great sense of humour. Poirier described having dreams about being crushed to death.

"I'm so sorry I couldn't save you on that day," Poirier said in the statement.

Owner expresses condolences to family

When given the chance to address the judge, Perfection Contracting owner Ghyslain Bouchard turned to the victim's family and expressed his condolences. Bouchard said Harris had worked for the company for four years and become part of their work family.

"I just want to say that going forward we're doing everything and anything that we can do to make sure that something like this never happens again," Bouchard said.

The judge also expressed condolences to the victim's family.

"Losing a brother or spouse is a very, very difficult thing to live through," Finn said. "I hope at some point you will find peace in this and be able to continue with your lives."

Bouchard declined to comment outside the courthouse.