July 13, 2021 Tragic Collapse

Published by Victor Barr on

I met Eric Stemmer in January 2021. He was a friendly, conscientious man who wanted what was going to work safely and best for his job at Brooklyn Tower. I had a swing stage and he had concrete work to do. He seemed very sincere and honest and was concerned with the safety of his guys. We agreed to work together to get his job done. 

Now he will never get to do any job again. Ever.

When I heard about the collapse of the crane at Brooklyn Tower I thought about one of the workers I knew with Stemmer and I thought about Eric. The first worker returned my text right away. Eric did not…

So much has changed since I met Eric Stemmer. He was a family man, a businessman, a boss, and a customer. He was many things to many people and now sadly, he is another terrible statistic. 

But he was so much more, as were Patrick Stemmer, Jared Zook, and Cailen Vilness. These four individuals lost their lives in a tragic workplace accident in downtown Kelowna. For me, it hits close to home having met and worked with these men until a couple of months ago.  To add to this horror another victim still lies beneath the rubble of the fallen steel. Five lives senselessly lost.


I felt numb when I saw the wreckage of the collapsed crane. The aftermath of this accident will reverberate for many years to come. These men left behind people that loved them. They left them with feelings I can’t comprehend. A horror I don’t want to imagine. 

With the collapse of the crane went the shattered dreams of five individuals and their families. It made me realize how petty my worries and fears have been. I lost sleep because I lost the job working at Brooklyn, a job I lost because of safety issues… Now losing that sleep feels like wasted energy. The safety issues that happened to cause this terrible accident have spawned much more than lost sleep.

Lost lives…

When I heard there were multiple fatalities on the site I couldn’t believe it. When I saw the pictures of the crane lying in a twisted heap after falling 26 stories my stomach heaved in anguish. My toes curled in fear. I have worked with and around construction sites for much of my thirty-year career as a high-rise window cleaner. This was the worst accident I have heard about on one of those sites. My head tingled at the thought of those men falling to their death. Having lived on the edge for over thirty years I hope to never witness such an event again.

Our city came to the forefront of the news across the nation. I wish it had been about our beautiful if not scorching weather. Instead, it was about the sad events of July 12, 2021. 

All my problems are mere blips compared to those faced by the families left behind. I donated to the Gofundme pages for these lost individuals knowing it was a small contribution to try to help soften the blow. The only other thing I could do was send my positive love and vibes to the men we have lost. I send my condolences to their family. My heart breaks for those that were closer… 

Will we ever know why this occurred? I hope something can be learned so it never happens again. I would not want to be those left behind to sift through the debris and find the truth. One day they may reveal what and why this happened.

Until then I will honour my small memory of the men who lost their lives.

Rest in peace, and shine on into the heavens. 


Fundraiser by Emily Roy : Stemmer Family (gofundme.com)

Fundraiser by Christa Walker : Kelowna Crane Collapse – Help Jared’s Family (gofundme.com)

Fundraiser by Everton Weekes : Kelowna Crane Collapse – Help Cailen’s Family (gofundme.com)

Categories: Daily Journal


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