Coroner's inquest into John Francis Smith's death focuses on safety 

By Jenn Watt

Published March 22 2018

When John Smith fell from the roof of a waterfront cottage under construction on Percy Lake in 2013 his brother Terry Smith was working with him. Terry was in the process of taking plywood sheeting up to the roof where John 37 was working when he heard him slip.

As the first witness March 21 to speak at the coroner’s inquest into the death of John Francis Smith Terry Smith was asked by counsel Rebecca Griffin to recall the events of July 31 2013 as well as the safety measures taken by the workers and employer Solid Ground Home Building.

Coroner’s inquests are mandatory when a death occurs on the job at a construction site.

On Wednesday morning Dr. Mary Beth Bourne the inquest coroner told those assembled the process was about focusing public attention on the circumstances surrounding the death and that the jury could make recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

The jury is composed of community members and during the process they were given the opportunity to ask questions of all witnesses who presented evidence.

Griffin told the jury that John Smith had sustained “major traumatic injuries” in his fall. He was taken by ambulance to Haliburton medical facilities where he was pronounced deceased.

Terry Smith told the jury that on July 31 2013 his brother hadn’t been wearing a fall prevention harness nor had he been wearing protective footwear or hard hat.

“I actually told him to tie himself off” said Terry.

The day had been foggy and the plywood on the roof was slippery he told the jury.

Four other witnesses were heard on Wednesday and the inquest continues Thursday March 22. More updates to come.