Phil and Joanna Huxley hold a photo of his son Ryan

Phil and Joanna Huxley hold a photo of his son Ryan

Day of mourning for workers in Abbotsford hears from Mission dad of victim

Father says awareness of workplace fatalities needs to be more than a once-a-year event.

  • Apr. 29, 2016 2:00 p.m.

A week before Ryan Huxley was due to be married, his father Phil got a call on his cell phone.

It was the Abbotsford Hospital informing him there had been an accident at work involving his son.

The 29-year-old Ryan was working in a local nursery, transporting plants on trailers with a John Deere Gator.

At worst, Phil thought, his son had suffered a broken arm or leg, or maybe caught his arm in a machine.

He went home to get his wife Joanna and go to the hospital.

As they were heading out the door, his cell phone rang again.

The surgeon said “don’t hurry.”

Ryan had been fooling around on the Gator, splashing through a mud hole when he skidded into the side of a 40-foot semi-trailer.

The impact had shattered his internal organs.

On Thursday morning Phil Huxley told his story at the annual day of mourning for workers killed on the job at a ceremony held at Abbotsford city hall.

It has been seven years since Ryan died.

“On the way here, coming down the Fraser Highway in Aldergrove, I spotted the cenotaph at the Legion,” Huxley said.

“And on the cenotaph was a sign that said ‘our glorious dead’.  And I couldn’t help but think I’m coming to a ceremony for our forgotten dead and we need to do something about that.”

He said awareness of workplace fatalities needs to be more than a once-a-year event.

About 100 people took part in the event, including Abbotsford mayor Henry Braun and representatives of unionized civic workers and WorkSafe BC.

The observed a moment of silence, and placed roses on a memorial.

It was one of many events held across the country to honour the national Day of Mourning that remembers workers who have been killed, injured, or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents.

In B.C. last year, there 122 workplace-related deaths, 50 from traumatic injury and 72 of them caused by occupational disease.

Ryan Huxley’s daughter is 13 now, and whenever she visits grandparents Phil and Joanna, she spends time in the backyard where a memorial to Ryan is located

“Every time she comes, she brings things for her dad,” Joanna said.

Phil and Joanna Huxley


Phil and Joanna Huxley hold a photo of his son Ryan, who was killed in a workplace accident in 2009. The couple took part in the annual day of mourning ceremony at Abbotsford city hall on Thursday morning for workers who died while on the job. DAN FERGUSON

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