He was known among his friends as a “guardian angel,” his mom, Cheryl, said. “He was the one that would never allow anyone to be bullied.”
Lyle was also a hero. When travelling in between Britt and Parry Sound one day, he and his friend came upon the scene of an accident.
A vehicle was in a water-filled ditch with a telephone pole on top of it. Lyle lifted up the car while his friend managed to get the driver out. The Township of MacDougall presented him with a commendation for his efforts.
But even though he saved another man's life, his own time on Earth was to be short. On July 23, 2007, 25-year-old Lyle was killed while working at Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins.
The scoop tram he was operating fell down a 150-foot shaft protected only by a plastic snow fence.
After his death, the young man's parents, Cheryl and Ephraim, collected about 3,000 signatures on a petition, asking for changes to mining safety laws.
Although the Wahnapitae couple's provincial representative, Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas, presented it in the legislature, no changes were made.
“It was ignored,” Cheryl said. “I'm sure other families have done similar things, yet it doesn't seem to have impacted strongly enough.”
That's why Cheryl and Ephraim were outside the provincial building in downtown Sudbury July 23 — the fifth anniversary of their son's death — asking people to sign postcards addressed to Minister of Labour Linda Jeffrey.
The postcards ask the minister to launch an inquiry into mining safety in the province. The campaign was started by Gerry Lougheed Jr., the managing director of Lougheed Funeral Homes, earlier this year.
“Gerry Lougheed Jr. took care of our son Lyle when he died,” Cheryl said. “He's a good man. I think he's got the community at heart.”
A mining inquiry was also one of the recommendations made by Steelworkers Local 6500 in their report on the investigation of the June 2011 deaths of Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier at Vale's Stobie Mine.
But both Premier Dalton McGuinty and a spokesperson for Jeffrey have since stated that an inquiry isn't being contemplated at this time, as it might interfere with the coroner's inquests into Chenier and Fram's deaths.
“Even though recommendations are made by coroner's inquests, they're just recommendations,” Ephraim said. “They don't change the law. It's the law that has to change. If the law doesn't change, incidents are still going to happen.”
Cheryl said she's almost been afraid to turn on the TV since her son's death because she might hear about another mining accident.
“It brings it back,” she said. “There are so many deaths, and they're repetitive occurrences. The two young men that died in the mine last June, a year ago, their cases are so similar to previous cases. So why have changes not been made?”
She said she was pleased to see a number of people stopping to sign the postcards in downtown Sudbury June 23.
“We're getting quite a few, actually,” she said, adding they've heard a few stories from passersby who have been impacted by other mining tragedies.
While the couple are working hard to ensure there's a mining inquiry, they say nothing will ever make up for the fact that their son won't get to live his life.
“It's very difficult,” Cheryl said. “We have four grandchildren now that he never got a chance to see. He never got a chance to get married or have kids of his own. I miss him every day. We just hope that other people can be saved.”
Those who wish to sign postcards are asked to go to the Steelworkers Hall on Brady Street or any of the Lougheeds Funeral Home locations.
Posted by Arron Pickard