Fallen highway worker remembered during Day of Mourning ceremony

Cory Hurley
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Tears were flowing down Wanda Walls’ cheeks long before she reached the monument now bearing her recently deceased husband Wayne’s name.

Wayne Wall is one of five new names placed on this year’s monument for the annual Day of Mourning ceremony in Corner Brook.

Saturday, the grief of her and her family’s loss less than a year ago was still evident on Wanda’s face. With her seven-year-old daughter by her side — a photo of her late husband clamped under one arm as she held an umbrella and a wreath in the other hand — she walked to the monument and unsuccessfully tried to maintain her composure.

Her emotional state was understandable, having lost the man she loved on the highway as the paint crew worker with the Department of Transportation and Works carried out his duties July 23 of last year. She placed the wreath with her chin quivering, leaned over and kissed Megan on the cheek. The little girl now without a father, looked into her mother’s eyes and held her gaze for a second, and then the two returned to their family.

Wanda declined an interview, but was more than happy a little about her husband’s life would be shared publicly. She gladly offered the picture she carried of her late husband. Megan posed with it, flashing a smile.

Vicki Osmond, Wayne’s sister, said it has been a difficult nine months and that her brother is sorely missed.

“Megan was his world,” she said, breaking down with those words. “She was everything to him.”

She said the ceremony and recognition was hard to go through, bringing back the still fresh memories. However, she said it means a lot to the family of which he was the youngest of 13 children.

“Wayne was a person everybody knew,” she said. “If you were in a crowd, he would know who you were before he left. He was a family man and a hard worker. He was everybody’s friend.”

Wall was working traffic as a paint crew was working on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Flat Bay. He was struck by a passing pick-up truck, which also smashed into the back of a stopped Department of Transportation and Works sign truck which had been activated.

Osmond said her 40-year-old brother was always conscious of how hazardous his job was. She said he was critical of highway drivers, often reporting what he determined to be reckless driving to police.

“He was very concerned about the type of work,” she said. “He didn’t really like it, but you have to do what you have to do.”

Meanwhile, during the rain-soaked ceremony — of which many people mentioned seemed to be the regular weather for the Corner Brook ceremony — organizer Jim O’Neil said it is a time to remember those who suffered or died through workplace injury and illness. However, it is also a time to reinforce commitment to prevention of such tragic incidents.

“Workplace injuries are preventable — every single one,” he said to the large crowd, most huddled under umbrellas. “The knowledge and resources to prevent injuries are out there. We must work together to harness it and make sure every workplace has access to it.”

The other people who lost their lives as a result of industrial accidents on the job or travelling to their workplace that were added to the monument this year were Albert Read, Rudy Serrick, Stephen Perry and Perry Earle.

Organizations: Department of Transportation and Works, Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Flat Bay, Corner Brook

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