Joyce Colasimone did something Monday she had never done before: Talk publicly about the June 20, 1984, rockburst at Falconbridge Mine that claimed the life of husband, Richard Chenier.
“How many people actually stop to think about the rescuers involved?” Colasimone asked a crowd of more than 150 on hand for the 27th Annual Workers Memorial Day ceremonies at the Caruso Club on Monday.
“We call them heroes. Why do we not honour them for rescuing and helping people in accidents? I stand here today to say thanks and I do appreciate the people who responded.
“To the people that have put themselves at risk, I want you to appreciate the bravery within you. You are the true heroes.”
Richard Chenier, along with two other miners — Sulo Korp el a and Daniel Lavallee — were killed when a massive rockburst shook Falconbridge Mine at 10:12 a.m. on June 20, 1984.
A fourth miner– Wayne St. Michel — was within minutes of being reached by rescuers about 27 hours later when he died.
The initial Workers Memorial Day was marked on the first anniversary of the fatal rockburst as a tribute to the four miners. The event grew in scope to include all Falconbridge workers who have died on the job and then all workers who have died as a result of workplace accidents, injuries or industrial disease.
Colasimone declined to talk to reporters following her address, one of more than half a dozen presentations made at Monday’s ceremony.
Several speakers made reference to the fatal accident at Vale’s Stobie Mine on June 8 that claimed the lives of Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier.
“After the two recent mining deaths … and another one that took one life in Saskatchewan, it’s becoming even more important we stand together and remember these individuals today and every day so we never forget how fast (an accid e nt) can happen,” said Richard Paquin, president of Mine Mill Local 598/CAW.
“No one wants to get injured at work or get killed, or goes to work with the intention of being hurt or killed, but still (accidents) happen. The latest statistics are that 6,000 still die from workplace injuries and accidents each year. That’s one worker every 15 seconds.”
Mayor Marianne Matichuk told the audience “it takes each and every one of us to make a difference … and make a commitment to demand the highest level of health and safety in the workplace.”
Geoffrey Lougheed said that almost three decades later, the deaths of the four Falconbridge miners continue to impact the city.
“Their lives continue to make a difference 27 years later,” said the funeral director. “Every time we say their names, every time we talk about them, we celebrate their lives. Legislation: it’s only as good as the people who live it. You and I must live it.”
For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3178969
A look back at 1984 tragedy A look back at 1984 tragedy – by Star Staff
A massive rockburst — a sudden and violent shifting or movement of rock underground — that struck Falconbridge Mine in Falconbridge at 10:12 a.m. on June 20, 1984, was so powerful it was felt in downtown Sudbury.
The rockburst, which registered 3.5 on the Richter Scale, produced major damage between the mine’s 3,800-foot and 4,000-foot levels.
It immediately took the lives of miners Sulo Korpela, Daniel Lavallee and Richard Chenier, who were smothered by fallen rock. Voice contact was made with a fourth man– Wayne St. Michel.
While an initial rescue attempt was underway, a second seismic event occurred. That resulted in the rescue effort being halted while the mine’s nearly 200 miners were evacuated.
Rescue efforts resumed shortly after.
Falconbridge chairman Bill James, no stranger to a mine environment, came to Sudbury to personally lead the rescue teams.
For the next 27 hours, rescuers were in constant voice contact with St. Michel. Just as they were within minutes of rescuing him, however, St. Michel died due to a shift in the area around him.
It would be days before the bodies of all four men were recovered.
Falconbridge Mine never reopened. The mine’s head frame was later brought down and the mine’s crown pillar removed through a surface mining operation.
The deaths of the four miners on June 20, 1984, brought to 46 the number killed at Falconbridge Mine since the first fatality on Nov. 22, 1929.
The 46 deaths also account for just more than half of the fatalities recorded at Falconbr idge (now Xstrata Nickel) operations in the Greater Sudbury area since the company started mining.