Sudbury mine deaths ‘should not have happened’ – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 21, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Before an inquest jury heard about how two Sudbury men died on the job, an assistant Crown attorney talked about how the men lived.

Susan Bruce, who along with assistant Crown Roberta Bald is serving as counsel to presiding coroner Dr. David Eden, told the two-man, three-woman jury Monday what kind of men Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, were.

The two were killed June 8, 2011, at Vale’s Stobie Mine when they were overcome by a run of 350 tons of muck — rock, water and sand — while working at the mine’s 3,000-foot level near the No. 7 ore shaft. A mandatory inquest is being held into their deaths. It is scheduled for two weeks, but could end sooner because some witnesses who would have given similar testimony have been written off the list.

Chenier, a supervisor at Stobie, was the husband of Tracy and father of two children, aged 6 and 7. He loved family activities such as fishing, hiking and skiing, and built his children “an elaborate play centre from scratch,” not from a kit at a department store, Bruce told the jury.

“He had a wicked sense of humour and he was a very kind man.”

Fram was handsome with a great smile, said Bruce, who presented photographs of both men to jurors, then placed them on her desk before them.

There were many parallels between the two, she said. They both came from mining families, Chenier’s from Quebec and Fram’s from Sudbury.

Jordan Fram was a gifted hockey player and devoted slow-pitch ball player who attended St. Charles College. His favourite meal was spaghetti and pancakes — together.

It is not only their families, friends and colleagues who mourn their loss, said Bruce. “Really, our entire community grieves their sudden passing.”

Bruce presented the jury with the basic facts of how the two men died, stressing an inquest is not about assigning blame or about winners and losers.

Bruce said Stobie is a century-old mine located about six km from the courthouse. Chenier and Fram were killed when they were overcome by an uncontrolled run of wet muck that “burst out of an ore pass” and buried them.

She explained that muck is moved down ore passes, vertical tunnels in a mine, and at Stobie cascades to the bottom level where it is crushed, then returned to surface.

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