• Hunter Cresswell

Farrellton sandpit death case in court

O’Connor, company face criminal negligence charges

If found guilty, Michael O’Connor faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.


O’Connor of Ronald O’Connor Construction in Farrellton and the construction company face charges of criminal negligence causing death in the 2018 death of Daniel Dompierre at the company sandpit.


Ronald O’Connor Construction in Farrellton and the company’s co-director Michael O’Connor face charges of criminal negligence causing death. Low Down file photo
Ronald O’Connor Construction in Farrellton and the company’s co-director Michael O’Connor face charges of criminal negligence causing death. Low Down file photo

According to Crown prosecutor Stéphane Rolland, the criminal negligence causing death case will hinge on proving whether O’Connor and the company did something, or didn’t do something, that displayed “wanton or reckless disregard for health and safety.”


“That’s the case here with Mr. O’Connor and his company,” Rolland said.


O’Connor and the company’s lawyer Sébastien Gagnon declined to comment on the case. The charges against O’Connor and the company have not been tested or proven in court.


If found guilty, the company could face a fine and a probation period, in which work would be supervised so another fatal incident doesn’t happen again, Rolland said.


On Nov. 1, 2018, Dompierre, 31, was operating an excavator in the company sandpit when a landslide buried him and the machine. Authorities worked for a week to stabilize the pit before they were able to recover Dompierre’s body on Nov. 8, 2018.


He was a father of four from Bouchette, between Gracefield and Maniwaki.


Authorities freed the 30 to 40-ton excavator on Nov. 23, 2018.


According to the Quebec workplace safety commission, the sand slope that Dompierre was working on just before the slide occurred was 30 metres high. A commission spokesperson told The Low Down in 2018 that the walls of the sandpit should have been tiered at intervals of no more than three metres.


O’Connor and the company have not entered a plea, Rolland said.


There have been multiple procedural hearings on this case in the Gatineau courthouse and the next hearing is scheduled for June, according to Rolland.


No trial date has been set, but Rolland said that if it does go to trial, it would likely take place next year.


Ronald O’Connor Construction was founded in 1986, according to the federal corporation information website.