WESTLOCK, Alta. – A grieving family wants to set the record straight and get answers following a tragic, mid-August accident in Westlock that claimed the life of 65-year-old Morinville resident Greg Bucknell.
Greg’s wife Karen Bucknell and his daughter Brittany Schaefer recently reached out to the Westlock News to correct the public details surrounding Greg’s death, with Brittany saying point blank they feel they’ve been failed by the system as “there’s no justice for Greg and that’s the most disgusting part out of all of this.”
“Greg was a wonderful person and a lot of people are just still finding out that he passed. A lot of people have questions and we want to try and clear it up. We know there was quite a bit of chatter in the community of Westlock. We just want it to be accurate and not have people guessing,” said Brittany.
“Just for accountability for all the parties involved … we just want the whole story.”
Westlock RCMP, as reported by Town and Country This Week at the end of August, said they were called to Champion Feeds Aug. 18 after a pickup truck backed over a pedestrian and killed him — no names were released by police. In fact, the accident happened at Trouw Nutrition (previously known as Champion Feeds), located at 9415 - 109th Street, and Greg was there as part of his job as a delivery driver and was not a pedestrian.
Brittany says they’ve been told an “80-year-old man was struggling to back up” his pickup truck in the warehouse so Greg went in behind and tried to help guide him and “was killed doing a good deed” while Karen asked why Greg, who wasn’t an employee of Trouw, was even allowed to “wander around the warehouse.”
The women have been told the driver’s foot slipped and he wound up accelerating over a two-and-half-foot concrete barrier and “still went 15 feet back” before pinning Greg and killing him.
Trouw offers statement; OHS investigating; RCMP investigation is closed
Trouw Nutrition North America, which has not released a public statement since the fatality, would not confirm, or elaborate on the events of Aug. 18, citing an active Alberta Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) investigation.
But Trouw marketing and communications manager Stefanie Gajdecki did say via an Oct. 27 e-mail that, “As a company and individually, we are grieving this accident's tragic loss of life.”
“We have conducted an internal review of the incident. Since our actions are part of the active investigation, we cannot comment until the investigation concludes,” Gajdecki wrote.
Jobs, Economy and Northern Development communications advisor Trent Bancarz did confirm in an Oct. 26 e-mail that OHS are investigating the “fatal incident that occurred at a feed mill in Westlock on Aug. 18” where a “worker died after being struck by a vehicle” but as “an active investigation, no further information will be provided.”
In a follow-up e-mail asking about timelines and possible outcomes of the investigation, Bancarz did say that each “is unique and timelines vary depending on an investigation’s complexity.”
“By law, the investigation must be completed and any next steps determined within two years of the incident date. Once the investigation is complete, OHS would review it to determine if the file should be submitted to Alberta Justice for consideration for prosecution,” Bancarz wrote. “If it isn’t, the file is closed. If it is, Alberta Justice would review and advise whether or not to lay charges. If charges are not laid, the file is closed. If charges are laid, the matter proceeds through provincial court. More information is available on alberta.ca that outlines how an investigation happens, including the different steps that take place.”
Westlock RCMP Staff Sgt. Al Baird stated Oct. 26 that their investigation is closed and the driver of a Chevrolet pickup, who they’ve not named, received a $162 ticket for backing when unsafe contrary to Section 32 of the Use of Highway and Rules of the Road Regulations — Gajdecki confirmed the driver of the pickup was not an employee of Trouw.
It's Brittany’s contention that “the investigation wasn’t done properly or appropriately” and they’ve been struggling to get details in the months following the tragedy.
“My family has no rights to sue, to ask questions … it’s actually disgusting how hush-hush and covering up they’re trying to be about this incident. Safety rules and protocols were severely broken which resulted in Greg’s life being lost. They’re just trying to cover it up and it’s business as usual,” said Brittany. “Yes, we are a grieving family, but it’s not right. We need to ensure that proper actions are taken not only against Trouw, but against the driver. There needs to be more accountability taken.”
Greg’s obituary recalls a man with an infectious laugh who lived his life to the fullest, would help anyone in any situation and “give the shirt off his back … if he was wearing one” and made friends with everyone he met.
Both Brittany and Karen remember him as a selfless individual who appreciated life and his friends and especially loved his family.
“He was a wonderful man,” said Karen. “He was everybody’s favourite, everyone loved him.”
The obituary notes that Greg, who was born in Winnipeg on Christmas Day 1956 to Anne Schultz and Ronald Bucknell and grew up in Steinbach/Brooklands, Manitoba with his two sisters Caroline and Colleen, was “respected by his co-workers, a true friend to many, a great mentor, proud papa, mechanic and a jack of all trades.”
“He was the happiest restoring his ‘52 Chev and loved to go camping and travel the world and experience everything it had to offer. He loved to eat, especially his perogies and Mac N’ Cheese. He loved to cook for his family but could never master pancakes. He sure gave it his all!” the obituary reads in part. “If you were in a bad mood, after talking with Greg you were lifted by his positive attitude and his desire to make sure everyone was OK.”
He is survived by Karen, his wife of 18 years, and six children; Travis (Amanda), Tammy, Jenette, Meghan (Cody), Terran, Brittany (Derek) and eight grandchildren; Mckenna, Cheyenne, Mayla, Brielle, Rhyilan, Kenzley, Remi, and Eli.