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Crane operator charged in deadly workplace accident

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The case against a crane operator facing criminal charges after a workplace accident claimed the life of a construction worker in Barrie three years ago remains before the courts.

However, on Wednesday, the Crown confirmed criminal charges against North Steel, the company allegedly responsible for the crane at a Dunlop Street construction site on June 24, 2021, were withdrawn. It was also learned that the occupational health and safety charges against Donald Balkwill, the crane operator, have been stayed.

According to police, 52-year-old Corey Phillips died at the Dunlop Street West job site near Boys Street when a crane tipped over and killed him.

More than a year later, police charged Balkwill and North Steel with criminal negligence causing death in the case.

Police said the company supplied and installed steel beams at the site.

They also shared that officers and the Ministry of Labour investigated and determined that the crane fell over, knocking Phillips down and pinning him under the beams.

Police said it was believed Balkwill wasn't licensed to operate the crane, which they alleged had been mechanically altered.

A GoFundMe set up for Phillips' family raised more than $15,000. The campaign said Phillips was a loving husband, father, brother, friend, son, uncle, cousin, colleague and grandfather.

Balkwill is scheduled to appear in June. The allegations against him have not been proven in court.

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