Ronnie Lepage of Wahnapitae was a veteran operator of heavy equipment and a model and guide for many young workers. So it was especially shocking to family members and colleagues when the 59-year-old was pinned under a dump truck last Thursday on Vale property in Copper Cliff, dying subsequently in hospital from his injuries.
Working around big vehicles and other equipment “is something we’ve done all our lives,” said older brother Richard, 63. “He and I, and the other brothers, we’ve all done it forever. An accident like that is almost unheard of.” Younger brother Todd, 54, said it was Ronnie’s own vehicle, which he was driving for contractor Cecchetto and Sons, that wound up on top of him.
“It was a freak accident,” he said. “Ronnie was always safe, and a mentor to other young operators. I know a few young guys he works with and they’re freaked right out over it, thinking how could it happen to somebody like him. But that’s all it takes — you could do something a thousand times and that one time it doesn’t go right.”
Todd said his brother was fastidious about work, but a jovial and relaxed guy to spend time around. “He was such an easygoing person,” he said. “Always smiling. And he’d give you the shirt off his back.”
When he was a kid, Todd recalls his older brother arriving one day “with my first brand-new bike. He said he bought it for me because I used to wash his car all the time. That was a long time ago, but it’s stuck with me forever.”
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