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Not Enough Time – The Tragedy of Tim DesGrosseilliers

“Tim was 12 years older than me, but we were very close. We talked
almost every day, and I would absolutely say he was my best friend.
His loss is still devastating to me and I miss his support.”
– Michelle Fitch, Tim’s sister

On Sept. 8, 2017, Tim DesGrosseilliers, an elevator mechanic, was killed after being crushed by a piece of falling equipment while working in an elevator shaft at the University of Toronto. He was 52.

Michelle Fitch with her daughter and a photo of Tim at a Steps for Life Walk

Let us tell you about Tim

Tim DesGrosseilliers had a lifelong love of cars. At any given time, he owned many classic cars. He especially loved Pontiacs and Dodges.

In the winter, Tim loved snowmobiling and spent as much time as possible riding the trails.

Kind and generous with his time and support, Tim would drive hours, in the middle of the night, to lend a supportive hand if someone needed him.

At the time of his death, he was sharing a house with his aging father, helping him financially and with household and yard tasks, so his dad could maintain his independence.

Tim had a wonderful sense of humour that many around him enjoyed. Although he never had any children of his own, Tim loved kids and spent much time with his nieces and nephews. One of his endearing qualities was he seemed like a kid who had never fully grown up. He embraced life like he did in his youth and even had a drawer in his bedroom filled with nothing but candy.

Tim entertaining his niece and nephew

What Happened?

On the day Tim was killed, he was rushed in the job he was doing. He had a fast-approaching deadline and in haste, he made a decision to use nylon straps to rig and hoist a load, rather than chains, which were not readily available.

A catastrophic oversight on his part was that the load had multiple sharp “pinch points”, which ultimately cut through the nylon straps. The load fell onto Tim, who was standing underneath it in the elevator shaft.

Tim died on the scene and his apprentice was injured. In a cruel irony, he wasn’t even supposed to go to work that day but the company needed him.

What Went Wrong?

#1. Tim had been given a very small window of time to do a dangerous hoist. Being hurried affected his decision-making. 

#2. Opting to use nylon straps rather than chains was a tragic decision, but the chains weren’t readily available.

#3. He was operating blind with the crane, acting as a rigger, and with no signal operator.

All of these factors contributed to a workplace fatality…the end of Tim’s life.

However, leading up to this last day of Tim’s life, he had made multiple complaints regarding safety issues on the job site. His concerns were ignored.

Tim’s death, and the resulting inquest, led to 15 recommendations for changes or improvements in the industry.

Tim and his sister, Michelle, share a laugh

Hope for Safer Workplaces

Tim’s family was deeply affected by his preventable death. His sister, Michelle Fitch has a message for all workers:

“Never do a job if you question its safety. It is your right to a safe work environment.
There are laws to protect workers, and if you ever doubt that those laws will save your job, the alternative is so much worse. The people left behind never stop looking for you, never stop hoping it was just a terrible dream.”

Please watch this powerful short video about Tim’s death.


Since 2000, more than 20,000 Canadians have died as a result of their work – either from an occupational illness or injuries sustained on the job.


Is this the legacy we want to be building?

Please watch this short video (3 min) about some of the faces behind the stats.

About the JPMF

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