Jordan was working 3,000 km away from home and family

On Friday, March 14, 2014, the most terrible thing happened to my beautiful family. My 21-year old son Jordan Gahan died in a workplace accident in Firebag, Alberta. He left behind three brothers, mom and dad, grandparents, family, and friends. Most of these people lived in Fredericton, NB, over 3,000 kilometres away.

As a mother all I could think of was my son was all alone. He was on a worksite with people who became his family, but he fought for his life alone and he was lying deceased all alone. We were told that his body would remain at the Northern Lights Hospital in Fort McMurray for the next two days and would be transferred to a funeral home on Monday morning. He was alone when he died, and he was alone now. I had to put my faith in other people to tend to my son and to his needs and I was thousands of miles away broken to the core.

Jordan loved racing and built his first racecar when he was 17.

We contacted our funeral home in Fredericton, and they coordinated all the arrangements to have my son transported to Fredericton. He was flown home in the belly of an Air Canada jet and arrived late Thursday afternoon in Halifax, NS. His body was picked up by our local funeral home and brought to Fredericton. I saw my son that night for the very first time.

Jordan and I had talked daily, and we had our last conversation the afternoon that he died. I never dreamed that this would be our last conversation but as with all my conversations with him, I always told him that I loved him, that I was proud of him and to always work safely. He was looking forward to coming home in just a few days.

Jordan was operating an excavator at the bottom of a borrow pit when the excavator suddenly fell through the ice. With 12.5 feet of frigid water between the cab of the excavator and the surface, Jordan got out of the vehicle, but was not able to reach the top in time. His hard hat floated up to the top and then his body. Jordan drowned that dreadful day.

The shock of losing my son was unbelievable. Friday, March 14, 2014 will always be the worst day of my life. There will never be a more terrible day for me. The next few days were consumed with preparing for his arrival from Alberta, preparing for his visitation and funeral and visiting with thousands of people that were around our family to console and comfort us during the most difficult time in our lives. We were so blessed with so many people to help us and comfort us. Jordan’s employer coordinated the transportation of his personal belongings from his camp room to Fredericton and his roommates took care of transporting his belongings from his apartment to Fredericton. His personal belongings were very important to me, but it would have been heartbreaking for me to have to retrieve them myself. I will always be grateful for those that helped us during that time. His personal belongings were stored for many years but over the last year, I have organized them, and they are in my new home and bring comfort to me.

When I reflect on the impact distance had on my son’s death, I have mixed emotions. I am thankful that my son’s body was brought back to his home in New Brunswick safely. I am thankful that his employer helped with his personal belongings and provided support to our family. I am thankful to the lead investigator for keeping me informed of all developments in my son’s case every step of the way. She treated me with compassion and love. I had documented every milestone in his life, and I would not stop until I had all the details of his death as well. I am thankful and grateful for Threads of Life and my family support person that called me faithfully every Wednesday. She reassured me and helped me so much. I am thankful for Alberta WCB for their compassion. I am thankful that I could attend the sentencing hearing in Calgary, Alberta two years after my son died.

Distance was very difficult in the beginning, but I am thankful for the gracious and kind people in Alberta and New Brunswick that helped us during a very difficult time. Their kindness and love extended to our family will never be forgotten.


Leica Gahan
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