Inquest to be held into death at Pickering construction site

An inquest will be held into the death of an Ontario man who died on the job at a construction site in Pickering more than four years ago, the province has announced.

The inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Christopher Panepinto, 33, on Feb. 10, 2020, Dr. Joel Kirsh, a regional supervising coroner with the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario, said in a news release Friday.

"The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing further deaths," the release from the Ontario ministry of the solicitor general says.

The inquest is being held under section 10 of the Coroners Act, which requires a coroner or police officer be notified of a death if there is suspicion it occurred under violence, neglect or other circumstances.

The release said the inquest's date and location will be provided at a later date.

Panepinto was crushed by a temporary barrier while he and other workers were forming concrete for a new retirement community in Pickering, according to his brother David Panepinto.

"We still don't have any answers at all of what really happened, and why," David Panepinto told CBC News on Dec. 22, 2022.

David Panepinto has said the family wants to know what happened that day and it wants justice.

David Panepinto looks at the retirement community in Pickering his brother, Christopher, helped build. He died during the construction phase and never got to see the project's end.
David Panepinto is pictured here looking at the retirement community in Pickering that his brother, Christopher, helped to build. Christopher Panepinto died during the construction phase and never got to see the project's end. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

In July 2022, Delgant Limited, the construction company that had employed Panepinto, was charged with health and safety violations in connection with the death.

In December 2022, however, the Crown told the Panepinto family in an email that it had withdrawn the charges after it concluded it couldn't finish the case within 18 months, the timeline established for provincial offences by the Jordan decision, a 2016 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Crown had said it couldn't meet the timeline due to an "abysmal and unacceptable" lack of judicial resources at the court handling its case.

"We lost him, and now we lost the chance for justice," Panepinto had said to CBC Toronto.

According to online court records, Delgant Limited was charged and fined $300,000 in 2005 after two workers fell to their deaths.

The Ministry of Labour conducted two "proactive" visits to the company since Panepinto's death and found it in compliance with health and safety laws and orders that the ministry issued after the fatality.