A sunny afternoon immediately turned darkish for Lucien Lessard on June 17, 1958, as he plunged into the ocean when a guidance collapsed on a bridge getting produced concerning Vancouver and North Vancouver.
Lessard, now 91, was amid 79 personnel who fell from the Next Narrows Bridge in what continues to be a person of British Columbia’s worst industrial mishaps.
He is the very last survivor of the disaster that killed 23 persons, typically iron workers, two engineers and a crane operator. A diver who searched for bodies in Burrard Inlet drowned.
On Wednesday, Lessard planned to be at the site as component of an once-a-year ceremony commemorating those people who labored on the span, which was renamed the Iron Workers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge in 1994.
The occasion draws hundreds of individuals per year but has been minimal this year to only a several which include Lessard, his daughter, the president of Regional 97 of the Iron Employees Union, a reverend and a bagpiper who will lead a wreath procession.
Lessard was a foreman at the site and identified to his crew as Lou.
“I was on the edge of the bridge,” he recalled in an interview.
“I went down 125 toes and then 35 feet to the base of the ocean. It was dark on the base mainly because when the bridge fell down that mixed the mud on the base of the ocean and it was as black as it could be,” he stated.
“I couldn’t breath in the water,” he stated, including that when he last but not least surfaced he recognized he’d suffered serious injuries. He fractured his still left femur and right arm, and spent around 3 months in medical center.
His feelings have been with people he knew had not survived, and that took an psychological toll on him and the other survivors.
“Dad in no way talked about it,” explained Christine Rzepka, who was born in 1961.
A sunny afternoon right away turned darkish for Lucien Lessard on June 17, 1958, as he plunged into the ocean when a assist collapsed on a bridge remaining created involving Vancouver and North Vancouver.
It was only about 20 several years ago that her father stated something about the memorial he attended just about every 12 months, and even then it appeared he’d allow it slip, she stated.
“He wasn’t all set to offer with it. He retained it different. He dealt with it when he went to the memorial with his iron employee friends and he didn’t deliver that disappointment residence at all.”
Rzepka attended her to start with memorial in honour of the useless and their families about 20 yrs in the past prior to her siblings, such as three sisters and two brothers, started becoming a member of them, she claimed.
“Just after we started out to arrive to the memorial he began to open up a whole lot a lot more about what happened then. We’ve learned a large amount far more in the past 10 yrs than we at any time knew rising up.”
Rzepka said her father, who moved to a retirement household in Langley about three months back, is established to show up at the annual memorial for as very long as he can. This yr he options to don a face shield to defend him from any possibility of COVID-19.
Paul Beacom, president of Community 97, claimed the memorial will be broadcast by using Facebook and Zoom.
“It truly is to let people know that when they cross that bridge concerning Vancouver and North Vancouver there was a higher cost to fork out to build that bridge, in human lives.”
This report by The Canadian Press was very first released June 17, 2020.