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BC Coroners Service Calls Inquest into Mushroom Farm Deaths

The BC Coroners Service has announced it will hold a public inquest into the deaths of three workers who died on a mushroom farm in Langley in September 2008.

Ut Tran aged 35, Han Pham aged 47 and Chi Wai (Jimmy) Chan aged 55 all died within moments of entering a pump shed where toxic gas had accumulated on Sept. 5, 2008. Two other workers survived, but suffered permanent, severe brain damage in the incident.

Last month the B.C. Supreme Court ordered fines totalling $350,000 against two companies and three of the principals involved in operation of the mushroom farm and related composting operation. The companies and personnel had pleaded guilty to 10 of 29 charges laid under occupational health and safety laws after a lengthy investigation by WorkSafeBC.

Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said that after reviewing all the information available in the case, including the WorkSafeBC report, she concluded there is benefit to holding an inquest to examine some of the broader circumstances of the incident in an attempt to prevent future deaths from happening in similar circumstances.

During the inquest, presiding coroner Norm Leibel and a jury will hear evidence from subpoenaed witnesses to determine the facts surrounding these deaths. An inquest jury may not, by law, make any findings of fault or legal responsibility. However, it will have the opportunity to make recommendations related to the evidence presented.

An inquest is a formal process that allows for public presentation of evidence relating to a death.

The inquest is scheduled to commence on May 7, 2012, at the Coroners Court in Burnaby.

Because further details of the case are likely to become relevant evidence during the inquest, the BC Coroners Service will make no further comment at this time.

Contact:  Barbara McLintock
Coroner, Strategic Programs
BC Coroners Service250 356-9253
250 213-5020 (cell)

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect

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