RCMP: few answers on why snowplow driver was killed

Aiyow Qavavauq’s family and friends are mourning his sudden death last weekend under the metal belts of a Caterpillar D-6.


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT ¬ Police in Nanisivik can’t explain why a snowplow driver killed on the job last weekend decided to leave his cab for a dark and deadly walk toward a co-worker’s moving tractor.

Family and friends of Aiyow Qavavauq, 53, mourned his death this week as the RCMP continued to probe the circumstances that precipitated the tragic mishap.

The 15-year veteran of the GNWT’s transportation department was fatally injured last Sunday evening on the highway between Nanisivik and Arctic Bay when his legs and hip were crushed in the metal belts of a Caterpillar D-6.

“We don’t exactly know what happened,” Cpl. Marion Lamothe said.

“We know that the driver of the second loader, the D-6, never saw Aiyow at all, mainly because of the snow, which was still drifting around his cab.”

The pair were working together to clear a stretch of road near the airport turn-off, about 10 kilometres from the hamlet of Nanisivik.

Qavavauq, who was a well-known member of the Arctic Bay and Nanisivik communities, may have slipped while trying to climb onto the tractor to speak with the other operator.

Or he may have simply fallen imperceptibly in the snow before the tractor drove over his body.

According to police reports, Qavavauq was still alive when the D-6 operator finally noticed him laying in the snow. Having no radio equipment with which to call for help, the driver of the tractor had to use Qavavauq’s snowplow to fetch a nurse from Nanisivik.

Qavavauq died before help arrived.

High Arctic MLA Levi Barnabas and Transportation Minister Jim Antoine expressed their condolences to Qavavauq’s family in the Legislative Assembly on Monday.

The Department of Transportation is conducting its own investigation of the accident, and it is likely that the Worker’s Compensation Board will also investigate.

Department regulations apparently do not require vehicles working outside of town to be equipped with radios. In light of this latest tragedy, at least one union representative has questioned this policy.

“If they’re working that far away, what precautions are in place for these peoples’ protection, in these types of circumstances?” asked Scott Wigges, a spokesman for the Union of Northern Workers.

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