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Coroners Inquest into mushroom farm deaths

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – There will be a coroners inquest into the deaths of three workers who were killed in an explosion on a mushroom farm in Langley in September of 2008.  Two others were with left with permanent brain damage.

Thirty-five-year-old Ut Tran, 47-year-old Han Pham and 55-year-old Chi Wai (Jimmy) Chan all died within moments of entering a pump shed where toxic gas had accumulated.

A WorkSafe BC investigation found the farm had flaws which created a hazardous situation for workers.  Two companies pleaded guilty to several charges under the workplace health and safety act and were fined $350,000.

Tracy Phan, whose father Michael is still in a coma, was disappointed no jail time was handed down.

She also called for a coroner’s inquest.  “I don’t tell people what happened to my dad because I don’t want pity from others,” Phan said earlier this year.  “When they [say], ‘Oh yeah, Tracey, where’s your dad?’  I just say he’s not home.”

When Phan graduated from elementary school, her father was unconscious in a hospital room. He’s still there and now she wonders what other milestones he’ll miss in her life.

“As I’m going through high school, I’m thinking, ‘What if my dad’s not there for me when I graduate high school? What if I don’t have my dad there when I walk down the aisle to get married?'”

BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair has also been looking for answers.

“Many things went wrong in the lead up to the tragedy and as the tragedy unfolded,” says Sinclair.  “An inquest will help us understand what went wrong, and what can be done to make farming safer.”