Canada
Schedule changes spare two truckers from quarry collapse

An aerial photo shows the scene of a cave in at a quarry in L’Épiphanie, QC

Credits: Maxime Landry/QMI Agency

KASSANDRA MARTEL | QMI AGENCY

L'EPIPHANIE, Que. - As the search for two workers buried in a quarry collapse entered its fifth day Friday, two machine operators say they would likely be dead if not for last-minute scheduling changes.

Sebastien Quevillon gave his wife and two sons big hugs amid the realization that he might be buried at the Maskino quarry northeast of Montreal if not for a call from his boss on Monday.

"I had to go to work at the quarry," said Quevillon, who operates an excavator. "At the last minute, my boss decided to send me to the (unloading) field."

He waited at the field for the dump trucks to arrive and became concerned by lunchtime when they hadn't shown up.

He decided to call driver Benoit Robert, who operated a front loader down at the quarry.

Just minutes earlier Robert and two truck operators had tumbled 100 metres, while still inside their vehicles, in a massive landslide.

Robert had jumped clear at the bottom of the quarry when Quevillon called.

"He started shouting at me and crying," said Quivillon. "I realized that something was wrong."

He headed to the scene and his heart sank: colleagues Daniel Brisebois and Marie-Claude Laporte were buried under mud and rock while Robert Benoit was pacing around in shock while waiting for a police chopper to rescue him.

Quevillon's phone began ringing as his mother and brother learned of the disaster.

"Everyone called me, he said. "They all thought that I was there."

The brother-in-law of one of the missing truck drivers told QMI that he also narrowly escaped death on Monday.

The man, who wouldn't give his name, said he and Marie-Claude Laporte were in their garage just prior to her fateful fall when she noticed his truck had mud on the undercarriage.

Quarry trucks aren't allowed to have mud because it could break off and cause a hazard.

"The unfortunate thing is that my sister-in-law told me to clean the back of my dump truck ... and I offered her my place," he recalled.

She drove off and minutes later, he heard a terrifying sound on the CB radio.

"It happened in a second and a half, I heard (her) death cry ... then complete silence," said the man, who was treated in hospital for shock.

He tried to enter the quarry to join the dig for his sister-in-law, but other truckers held him back, saying it was too dangerous.

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