Kyle Gerber was only 25 years old when he lost his life in 2008 after a workplace accident. He was pinned and suffocated by a malfunctioning lift, leading to a coma and eventually, his death.

“The lift that he was on can become confusing once it’s rotated 180 degrees,” says Dave Gerber, Kyle’s father, recalling the day of the accident. “The forward control is reverse, and the reverse control is forward, and I believe that he got into a situation where he was more than 180 degrees around. He was in-between some roof trusses in some close tolerances. I believe that he pushed the lever to go forward, it went backwards, and pinned him.”

Thinking about the situation, Dave is reflective. “I think it would have been rather sudden and firm. It would have knocked the wind right out of him. He couldn’t yell, and it wouldn’t have taken very long before he became incapacitated. He suffocated. They brought him down as quickly as they could. It was just too late, too long without oxygen,” he says.  “I never had a meaningful conversation with him after that day. I had a conversation with him but he just didn’t respond. As time went by, it became more evident he wasn’t going to recover. There was a point in time when my prayers turned from ‘let’s get him back’ to ‘let’s let him go.’”

In Canada, 240,682 workers suffered a lost-time injury and 904 workers lost their lives in 2016 because of a workplace accident or illness.

“I try not to be in grief,” says Barb Gerber, Kyle’s mother. “I don’t think it does any good to anybody. I’m upset that we will never get to see him get married, we will never get to see him have a family of his own,  or to see what the future held for him. We often wonder what he’d be doing right now if he were here.”

“It’s easier for me to remember the good times,” says Dave. “I hoisted the Stanley Cup with Kyle. I have a photo of him and myself giving each other a drink out of the cup. Those are memories that you never forget. They can’t take them away.”

To listen to Dave and Barb Gerber and others tell their stories of how their lives were forever changed in an instant by a workplace accident, go to clac.ca/dayofmourning and watch Before Day’s End, an 18-minute film that examines the human impact that workplace accidents have on their victims and families.

Saturday April 28th, is the International Day of Mourning, a day to remember workers injured on the job and a day to remember Kyle. Every worker matters. Because every life matters.