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Saltspring Island family man killed in Lake Cowichan logging accident Monday
The Saltspring Island man who died after being struck by a falling tree in a logging site in Lake Cowichan Monday has been identified as 41-year-old Ryan Burch.
Burch, who police stated was employed by Hancock Forest Management, was struck by a tree at a site near Meade Creek and sustained fatal injuries.
Hancock Forest Management’s Ian De Lisle declined to comment about Monday’s incident but noted the victim wasn’t employed by his company but rather a subcontractor, Mount Sicker Logging Company. He declined further comment.
A Mount Sicker representative reached by phone refused to deny or confirm whether the victim was an employee of theirs and also declined further comment.
The Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper reported Burch worked full-time on Vancouver Island as a faller. He often commuted to the job site from a fifth-wheel trailer parked in Crofton, usually leaving before dawn to reach his workplace.
“He used to work all day, come back to coach and run a practice for his kids’ baseball team,” Ken Byron, Burch’s father-in-law, told the Driftwood.
Burch leaves behind his wife Chelsea, four young children and many caring family members, friends and acquaintances.
"It's very tragic. There's a family out there dealing with this news," said Lake Cowichan RCMP Cpl. Larry Olson.
He confirmed police have handed the investigation over to B.C. Coroners Service and Work Safe B.C.
Olson and B.C. Coroners Service's Barbara McLintock agreed early indications show nothing to suggest the incident was anything more than accidental.
"We believe it was accidental and not criminal," Olson said Wednesday, also noting he couldn't recall any recent incidents involving a logging accident fatality in the area.
Burch was working along the Mead Creek Mainline on Meade Road near Lake Cowichan when he was struck by a tree just before 1:30 p.m. on Monday.
"They were clearing a right-of-way on Meade Road," said Work Safe B.C. communications officer Megan Johnston. "Investigators arrived on scene Monday and what they're looking for are any violations of occupational health and safety practices as well as other safety factors. They will also have an eye out for ways to prevent similar incidents."
Johnston said their investigation could take anywhere from three weeks to a month.
She confirmed Mount Sicker Logging as the prime contractor at the site.
Possible penalties to the company are hard to speculate as Work Safe's investigation just began, she said. "And depending on if there are violations and what those violations are, an order can be written up."