'I was barely alive': Workers return to site of London, Ont. building collapse on one-year anniversary
It was an emotional morning for Jacob Hurl who was joined by family members as they put flowers at the curb of 555 Teeple Terrace in London, Ont.
It's the site where workers John Martens, 21, and Henry Harder, 26, died when an apartment building collapsed during construction.
"This is a grave of two young men," says Hurl, who was injured in the collapse.
"Two young men that lost their lives and many others that almost did.”
Hurl was badly hurt, but has recovered.
"I was pinned in the building for four and a half hours," says Hurl.
"I was barely alive. When I got pulled out of there, I had tourniquets around my legs and I there were thoughts that I was gonna lose my leg for about a 24-hour period. I remember saying to myself, I can't die. I need to stay alive.”
Hurl lived, and so did another concrete worker thanks to a heroic effort by Roland Kovacs. Kovacs was in the basket of a boom lift when the building collapsed from the fourth floor to the main floor.
He didn't think to run, instead rushing to the aid of a man he didn't know.
"I never know who was (the) person I'd rescued," says Kovacs.
"Then finally, just yesterday, he contacted me and it's an amazing feeling to know who was the person and the fact that he's doing okay.”
Kovacs received a very heartfelt letter from the concrete worker named Jim, who thanked him, provided his contact information and one day hopes to meet him.
During the collapse, Kovacs was not harmed physically, but struggled for at least the first month after the ordeal.
"I saw a lot of things that not everyone saw," says Kovacs.
"Just maybe the guys who got trapped. Me and my wife definitely went through a hard time.”
Another injured worker, Travis Jaklitsh of New Hamburg, Ont. is recovering as well.
Five days after the collapse, Jaklitsch told CTV News he, "felt like he got hit by a transport truck.”
He had a broken ankle, fibula fractured ribs, and burns to his face and back.
"He's doing very good, thankfully," his wife Kaitlin told CTV News via direct message.
"He's trying to move forward with his life and he has healed very well, but the trauma will stay forever.”
To honour everyone involved, 30-year construction worker Dave Murray was the first to hang a vest at the site last year. He was back again Saturday after seeing the memorials catch on at homes and sites up to hundreds of kilometres away.
"The movement says people are paying attention and they're watching this and their hearts go out to these families," says Murray, whose sons are also construction workers.
"The construction industry is following this and we don't want it to get swept under the rug, right. We want the victims to know that they're not alone and they're not forgotten.”
Those inside the building on Dec. 11, 2020, along with members of the London and District Labour Council held a moment of silence at 11:45 a.m. Saturday.
That is the exact time that the building came down.
"We see in far too many cases historically, where workers go to work and are never able to return home," says Patti Dalton, president of the London and District Labour Council (LDLC).
This week, eight charges were laid in the building collapse. Two companies and one individual face charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Despite the charges laid by the Ministry of Labour this week, Dalton believes it wasn't a transparent process.
"They waited too long to bring these charges forward," says Dalton.
"We think that this government overall is highly negligent on health and safety for all workers. We want to see employers responsible going to jail, not just fines, that doesn't go far enough. We also will be continually pushing the Ford government and the Minister of Labor for much better health and safety measures across the board for all workers so that all workers are safe at work.”
Hurl says he plans on fighting for the rights of workers, and standing up to the government.
"I think I'm going to become an advocate for worker safety," says Hurl.
"I've kind of been doing that lately and I really enjoy it. It's kind of a passion of mine now.”
Construction continues inside the "Nest on Wonderland' at 555 Teeple Terrace, and apartments are listed for rent online.
The Nest on Wonderland is nearly complete, and apartments are available for rent online in London, Ont. on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. (Brent Lale/CTV London)
London Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Woman with disabilities approved for medically assisted death relocated thanks to 'inspiring' support
A 31-year-old disabled Toronto woman who was conditionally approved for a medically assisted death after a fruitless bid for safe housing says her life has been 'changed' by an outpouring of support after telling her story.
The police official blamed for not sending officers in more quickly to stop the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting is the chief of the school system's small police force, a unit dedicated ordinarily to building relationships with students and responding to the occasional fight.
Russia asserted Saturday that its troops and separatist fighters had captured a key railway junction in eastern Ukraine, the second small city to fall to Moscow's forces this week as they fought to seize all of the country's contested Donbas region.
The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos was met with justifiable criticisms and unfounded conspiracy theories.
Federal Conservative leadership candidate Patrick Brown says calling social conservatives 'dinosaurs' in a book he wrote about his time in Ontario politics was 'the wrong terminology.'
Speakers at the National Rifle Association annual meeting assailed a Chicago gun ban that doesn't exist, ignored security upgrades at the Texas school where children were slaughtered and roundly distorted national gun and crime statistics as they pushed back against any tightening of gun laws.
An 11-year-old survivor of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas, feared the gunman would come back for her so she smeared herself in her friend's blood and played dead.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling allowing the Quebec City mosque shooter to be eligible for parole after 25 years is raising concern for more than a dozen similar cases.
A seven-person civil jury in Virginia will resume deliberations Tuesday in Johnny Depp's libel trial against Amber Heard. What the jury considers will be very different from the public debate that has engulfed the high-profile proceedings.
A man, who was a referee at high school volleyball games in Guelph for more than 30 years, is facing sex assault-related charges.
The Region of Waterloo says there's a high safety risk at a Kitchener encampment and they are working with residents to prepare them for their eventual move.
Two low-cost airlines are butting heads over an agreement at the Region of Waterloo International Airport. Swoop wants to offer flights but the airport already has an exclusivity deal with rival Flair Airlines
Windsor police are asking for the public’s help identify a driver who fled after a rollover crash.
'Just do Mable things': Father of 18-year-old Pain Court crash victim shares memories of his daughter
It’s been a long and sorrow-filled week for the extended families of Mable Baker, an 18-year-old Chatham-Kent woman who was involved in a fatal car crash last weekend.
A local musician will be back on stage for the 16th annual 24-Hour Drum Marathon.
On the final day of the Paul Sadlon sexual assault trial, the defence called the complainant's allegations "straight out lies" and "not believable at all."
Provincial police are searching for a missing senior who went for a walk with his two dogs on trails behind his home in Springwater Township Thursday afternoon.
An Aurora couple is making plans to buy a house after winning the lottery.
Thursday evening, the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce hosted the 25th annual Bell Business Excellence Awards.
On Friday, there was a walk in Sudbury to remember the remains of 215 residential schoolchildren found in Kamloops, B.C., a year ago May 27.
Staff at the new Sault Metis Centre are getting set for the grand opening Saturday.
Hydro Ottawa is not committing to a new deadline to restore power to thousands of customers, one week after a devastating storm with wind gusts of 190 km/h hit Ottawa.
A Hydro One spokesperson says some people living in remote parts of rural eastern Ontario could be waiting weeks to have power restored after last Saturday’s devastating and deadly storm.
It's the first in-person Ottawa Race Weekend in Ottawa since 2019, after the 2020 and 2021 events were shifted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WATCH | New video appears to show man carrying air rifle on Toronto streets before being killed by police
A man shot dead by police officers near a Toronto elementary school on Thursday afternoon appears to have been captured on home security footage carrying an air rifle moments before the incident.
A 21-year-old Toronto man is facing a slew of charges following a suspected hate-motivated incident at a Jewish school in North York.
Toronto Pearson International is warning travellers and Mississauga residents they may notice unusual activity at the airport this weekend.
Is it unconstitutional to make someone pay to get a legal document translated into French? One of Montreal's top lawyers thinks so, and pointed out two other things from Bill 96 that he thinks the courts would most easily find fault with.
A man in his 80s is fighting for his life after being pulled out of the St. Lawrence River by a fellow resident who saw his vehicle had become submerged.
A large ship carrying chemical products ran aground during its passage through the St. Lawrence Seaway early Friday morning, backing up maritime traffic as tugboats tried to dislodge it.
A Cape Breton father is warning the public of the dangers in the area he lives after his teenager son fell nearly 40 feet over a cliff in Glace Bay.
A lawyer for families of victims killed in the Nova Scotia mass shooting says an 18-hour delay in finding five bodies of those murdered is a sign of "deficient" policing.
The lawyer who represented a man who murdered three RCMP officers nearly eight years ago in Moncton, N.B., said a decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada Friday may potentially change his sentence.
Pembina Trails School Division is confirming to CTV News that a group of students found a body during community cleanup at Ècole South Pointe School.
Winnipeg police are telling people to find an alternate route this afternoon as they are investigating a fatal crash near the St. Boniface Industrial Park.
'It's one way to be creative': Winnipeg student wants to be a bartender when older; school doesn't like comment in yearbook
Bartender. That is what one Grade 4 student said for the yearbook when asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, an answer the school is asking him to change.
A southern Alberta man who killed three people, including a two-year-old girl, could have the ability to request a release from jail earlier than his original sentence intended, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court decision Friday.
Calgary Flames fans are still coming to terms with a playoff series loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night in a game that saw both controversy and heartbreak following a Connor McDavid overtime goal.
Western Canada's premiers want to reform their health-care systems by expanding services but they say Ottawa first needs to pick up the phone.
A hotly-controversial decision on whether or not to freeze base funding for police in Edmonton was delayed Friday as fallout from a dispute between the mayor and the provincial justice minister continued to rattle political circles.
A 19-year-old man is in police custody after a shooting near Rogers Place after an Edmonton Oilers viewing party ended Thursday evening.
A shelter many expected to remain open until the end of June in Wetaskiwin, Alta., will close a month early.
A B.C. mom with a rare, debilitating illness has spent years trying to get the help she needs. Now she's considering medical assistance in dying.
The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals hit its lowest point in more than a month this week, and the decline was driven largely by regions outside the Lower Mainland.
Researchers working in partnership with UBC believe an eco-friendly material could help solve the world’s plastic pollution problem.