Some stories have “legs” as they say in journalism, meaning they beget many other stories and reader interest long after the original article is published.
Other stories are kept alive for journalists by those who advocate for them.
With the recent death of Sam Fitzpatrick’s mom Christine Tamburri last month, Fitzpatrick’s family friend Mike Pearson is calling on this newspaper, and the community, to keep his memory alive.
And we must.
Squamish’s Fitzpatrick was killed by a falling boulder on a Peter Kiewit Sons (Kiewit Corporation) worksite on Feb. 22, 2009.
The 24-year-old was working as a rock scaler on a private power project at Toba Inlet when he died.
Sadly, both of his parents — and stepfather — who lobbied for answers and accountability in their son’s death are now also gone.
His brother, who was also working at the site and saw it all happen understandably doesn’t speak publicly about his brother’s death, and shouldn’t have to.
His father, Brian Fitzpatrick, worked tirelessly until his own death in 2017 to get answers about his son’s accident. When he died, Tamburri took up the mantle, speaking to the media to keep the spotlight shining on her son, even as she battled the cancer that eventually took her life. Tamburri, 65, died last month at home in Squamish.
Kiewit Corporation, North America’s largest construction and engineering company, faces charges of criminal negligence over Fitzpatrick’s death in court this fall. (Of course, these charges of alleged negligence have yet to be proven in court.)
It is a groundbreaking case that could have long-lasting ramifications for corporations and workers alike. It asks how responsible a company is for a worker who dies on the job. It has national significance in that it is a test of the 2004 Westray law, which established new legal obligations for workplace safety.
Pearson, 60, promised Fitzpatrick’s dad he would stick with the story until “the last man standing.” And so he devotes his time to that cause.
Though we are a more tourist-based place than we were when Fitzpatrick died, the death of a worker on the job should still strike at the heart of this town. Not only for those who knew Fitzpatrick and his family, but also for those who respect the industrial backbone of this place.
Fitzpatrick is a symbol of all fallen workers. Whatever the outcome of the court case, everyone agrees it is a tragedy when a young worker doesn’t make it home from the job.
Let’s pick up the torch that Pearson carries and Fitzpatrick’s parents have passed on.
His parents can rest now, Squamish will remember.