Kelowna crane collapse: Heartbroken family visits site of B.C. accident

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KELOWNA, B.C. —
Their hearts are heavy. Their lives forever changed.

The grieving family of Jared Zook went to the scene of the tragic Kelowna crane collapse Tuesday night, bringing flowers and photos of Jared with them.

“We’re just looking for some closure,” said Jared’s father, Steven Zook.

Jared Zook, 32, is one of five men who died when a crane attached to a highrise under construction suddenly collapsed. Four of the men worked on the construction site. The fifth man was in a nearby building when he died. His body was recovered from the rubble in the days following the accident.

Steven Zook says his son moved from Edmonton to Kelowna for work as a crane rigger.

“He loved what he did. He was loved by his crew. He loved his bosses. They treated him nice,” his dad explained, describing Jared as, “just a very gentle spirt and always a grin on his face. Every picture you take, always a grin on his face.”

In an online fundraising page, two other victims have also been identified. They are brothers Patrick and Eric Stemmer. Their family owns Stemmer Construction which was involved in building the highrise.

The developer said the crane suddenly collapsed while in the process of being dismantled.

Larrabie Beckholt witnessed the collapse from his nearby apartment balcony.

“All of a sudden there was this terrible grinding ugly noise which made me look up and I saw the horizontal portion of the crane starting to tip…you’re not really believing what you’re seeing,” Beckholt said.

Steven Zook and the large family that Jared was a part of are trying to understand how the accident could have happened.

“It’s wrong. Something is wrong. It should have never have happened. These are dismantled all the time. It just doesn’t happen,” he said.

Jared’s family, crying and hugging one another at the accident site, told CTV News they are dealing with their grief one day at a time.

“We have a faith that we’re going to see him again one day and that’s the only thing that keeps us moving ahead,” Steven Zook said.

FAMILIES OF OTHER VICTIMS SHARE STORIES

One of the other victims has been identified as 23-year-old Cailen Vilness.

Chris Vilness tells CTV News the accident happened on his son’s first day back on the job. Cailen had been working at a different job over the past six months or so.

“This is devastating to say the least,” Chris said. “When you work at your job, you expect to come home at the end of the day.”

He described his son as outgoing, caring and loving.

“He had a lot of confidence and I’m proud of him for that,” Chris said. “He was a real, genuine, caring human being and the world is a much better place when he walked on it.”

He says while he hopes a tragedy like this won’t happen again, he doesn’t want to blame anyone.

“It’s not going to bring Cailen back,” he said. “So I’m not here to point fingers, I’m not here to point blame. It was an accident.”

Two other victims are brothers Patrick and Eric Stemmer. Their family owns Stemmer Construction, which is a longstanding company based out of Salmon Arm.

“There’s a real pall over the city, a real feeling of empathy and sadness,” said Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison. 

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