Plumbing company, friends remember man who died in Calgary trench collapse tragedy | Canadian

The man who was killed on the job this week in Calgary is being remembered as a kind and generous person.

Bobby Jimerson met Liam Johnston 14 years ago. They met while in Grade 7 in Waterloo, Ont.

“He was a special individual. Liam had a very specific personality that drew you towards him. He was a generous person and person you wanted to be around,” Jimerson said on Saturday.

Johnston died while working in a residential neighbourhood in northwest Calgary on Thursday.

Emergency crews were called to the 2600 block of 34th Avenue N.W., in the community of Charleswood, at around 10:45 a.m. after the trench collapsed.

Global News was told that a body of a 27-year-old man was found at around 8 p.m.

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The battalion chief said that there was no trench box in place initially, so crews had to place one before they could safely enter the trench.

According to a fire department spokesperson, one person was in the trench making sewer repairs along an alleyway when one of the sides of the trench collapsed.

The Calgary Fire Department tech rescue team was deployed, as well as an excavator and hydro vac.

Emily Gofton had been dating Johnston since December. The two had met while working for Mr. Mike’s Plumbing.

“He was an incredibly kind, compassionate person. He gives everything for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you knew him from one meeting or if you knew him his whole life. He was always going to be there for you and give everything he has,” Gofton said.

Gofton recalled the moment she got the news about what had happened on Thursday.

“I got a call shortly after the emergency responders were called and I was on site as they were arriving. I was terrified and I was hoping by the time I got there he would already be out. As time was going on I was hoping this was a nightmare that I was going to wake up from,” Gofton said.

“It was something he was fearful of. It was something he talked about — the possibility of this happening.”

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Gofton said Johnston had worked at Mr. Mike’s Plumbing since August 2021

“We really want everyone who has information to come forward. It is so important that everybody involved is held accountable,” Gofton said

In a statement provided to Global News, Mr. Mike’s Plumbing said that the company sends its condolences to all who knew Johnston, and that safety is its top priority.

“Mr. Mike’s Plumbing Ltd. is deeply saddened to report the passing of one of our employees, who died while performing excavation work at a jobsite on Thursday, June 8. He was an upstanding individual and a valued member of our excavation team who will be sorely missed,” the company said.

“We are working closely with the authorities to fully understand the circumstances surrounding the incident and to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to prevent such accidents from happening in the future.”

The company said it would refrain from further comment while the Occupational Health and Safety investigation is underway.

Jimerson said his friend knew how to make people laugh.

“Liam was one of those people you thank God for coming across because he was so rare. It didn’t matter how much or how little he had. He was willing to give you anything to make sure you had enough. He would sacrifice anything or everything to make other people happy. He was a brother to me and he always checked in on me. We lived together for a lot of years.

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“Liam always went out of his way to make sure I was OK. He was such a special amazing individual and I thank God every day that I got to meet him,” Jimerson said.

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