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Lumby grappling with loss of "outstanding human being"

Bradley Haslam was killed Saturday at the Tolko Industries planer mill in Lavington.
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June 19, 2013 - 5:23 PM

LUMBY — A small North Okanagan community is in mourning following the tragic death of a teenager who was killed in an industrial accident.

Bradley Haslam, 18, was on the night shift at Tolko's Lavington mill when he became entangled in the conveyor belt. No one saw it happen. He was discovered by the shift supervisor who, along with two other employees, administered first aid until medical services arrived. Haslam was later pronounced dead at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Just last month, Haslam walked across the stage to receive his high school diploma at Charles Bloom Secondary in Lumby. Principal Ken Gatzke says Haslam was toying with the idea of going to university for civil engineering, but hadn't quite made up his mind yet. At that moment, standing proud upon the stage with the rest of his Grade 12 class, Haslam's life was full of possibility.

Haslam was captain of Lumby's midget league hockey team, and Gatzke says he was a born leader both on the ice and in school. "He was an outstanding human being," he says. Haslam spearheaded a lunchtime floor hockey tournament open to all students, and Gatzke says it was a great activity for the school.

"Bradley was a top notch student, extremely well respected and a great leader," he says. "It's a real shock and a big lump in your gut."

Haslam lived in Lumby all his life and was well known in the community. "It's a tragic loss, (which is) hard in every community, but in a small, tight-knit one like Lumby, where everyone knows each other, you feel it through the whole community," Gatzke says.

The 340 Grade 7-12 students at Charles Bloom are on the brink of school's end, writing exams and handing in assignments. At the same time, they are grappling with the loss of a classmate, friend and mentor.

"The students are mourning together, supporting each other," Gatzke says. "I'm proud of how they're taking care of each other."

The school opened its doors to students on Sunday, the day after Haslam was killed and initiated its crisis response team. Gatzke says many students joined together at the school on Sunday. "Some started playing floor hockey," Gatzke says.

Counselling will continue to be offered to all students in the coming weeks, and many are coping with the grieving process by writing messages on a giant piece of paper hung from a school wall.

"They can write their thoughts on it," Gatzke says. " "We'll give it to the family, and if they want, they can use it in Bradley's celebration of life."

Gatzke says Haslam's family, which includes a brother and a sister, are feeling extremely overwhelmed by the loss.

"He'll be missed, and I know he'll never be forgotten," Gatzke says. "We're a small school so we know all our students really well. But Bradley was a special one."

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call (250)309-5230. Follow on Twitter @charhelston

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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