Stepping Up to the Plate for Workplace Safety – Jeremy Bowley’s Story
“That beautiful face will never get to grow older. It is frozen in time.”
– Elisa Kilbourne, Jeremy’s mother
Jeremy Bowley had a promising future ahead.
He was twenty-one going into his final year of criminology at King’s University College. His dream job was a career in law enforcement.
A kind, handsome and charming young man, Jeremy’s smile and warmth lit up every room he entered. He loved his mom, older sister Kaitlyn, girlfriend Pauline, his friends and extended family.
Jeremy loved all things related to the outdoors: camping, hunting, fishing, and sports.
But baseball…that was his passion. Jeremy had a natural talent and a love for pitching. He became one of the top pitchers in his division and continued to excel throughout his years in ball. His determination allowed him to do well in many endeavors.
“He had a competitive streak that was a mile wide,” says his mom Elisa. “But he managed to hide it very well…never saying a bad thing about a teammate, coach or officiant.”
To help fund his university education, Jeremy took a summer job at a local company installing party tents. He was thrilled to have a job that was outdoors requiring physical work. He thrived in this element.
This work environment, however, turned out to be a very unsafe one.
On August 1, 2013, Jeremy’s mom’s world was shattered.
After watching a concerning news story about a workplace incident in the area where Jeremy was working (near Watford, Ontario), later that evening Elisa opened the front door to a police officer who delivered devastating information. Jeremy had been killed on the job. He had been electrocuted while putting up a large event tent.
What Went Wrong?
Jeremy and five crew members were installing a big tent for a rural wedding, when a pole they were erecting from under the tent canopy came in contact with an overhead hydro line. Jeremy was fatally electrocuted. Four other young people sustained life-altering injuries.
Before this summer job, the crew was not given any hazard awareness training.
No education was provided on the danger of power lines.
There were no supervisors on site.
Sadly, there was no safety training provided to the young summer workers.
After a full investigation, charges were laid against the employer. The company was ordered to pay a fine to the municipality.
Tragically, Jeremy’s death was entirely preventable.
“You never expect to endure the distress, disbelief & disorientation of planning a funeral for your 21-year-old son.”
– Elisa Kilbourne
After this tragic, devastating, and preventable incident, Jeremy’s family wants every young person to know the dangers of working around electricity.
One cannot assume young people are aware of the various hazards associated with power lines. Sadly, numerous people agreed on where this party tent should be placed. No one noticed the danger of the power line.
Jeremy’s mom Elisa encourages everyone to share this message: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.
Every employer, supervisor and employee needs to know they have a right to:
#3. Refuse…and stop unsafe work and not feel threatened that they will lose their job.
If you are the parent of a young worker and would like some ideas on how to talk to your child about workplace safety, please visit MissingTim.ca.
There is an excellent downloadable resource guide called, “Your Kids & Job Safety.“
And why does the Missing Tim organization exist in the first place? Because Tim Hamilton died in 1999 at the age of 19…in the exact same way as Jeremy Bowley.
Yes, you read correctly.
One young worker’s death from electrocution while putting up a party tent is completely unacceptable. Two deaths is unfathomable.
Is this the workplace safety legacy we want to be building in Canada?
Since 2000, more than 20,0000 Canadians have died as the result of their work.
Here is the link to view a short video that highlights a few of the faces behind the stats.
About the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund
The JPMF was started after the death of Calgary Police Constable John Petropoulos on Sept 29th, 2000. John was investigating a break and enter complaint when he stepped through a false ceiling, fell nine feet into the lunchroom below and died of a brain injury. There was no safety railing to warn him of the danger; the complaint turned out to be a false alarm.
John was 32.
The JPMF is a registered Canadian charity that raises public awareness about workplace safety issues and educates people about why and how to ensure their workplaces and the roads are safer for everyone, including emergency responders. For further information, please visit jpmf.ca.
To help raise awareness about workplace safety and provide support for others dealing with workplace tragedies, Jeremy Bowley’s mom, Elisa Kilbourne, works with the Threads of Life Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support as a mentor, public speaker, and Family Guide volunteer.
Thank you for caring…and sharing this on social media ♥
When it comes to raising awareness about workplace safety, we all need to step up to the plate…so that what happened to Jeremy and Tim doesn’t happen to anyone else.