By Rebecca Tucker
A Ryerson student who was knocked out by a falling pole last week wants answers, but the school isn’t offering her any.
Jessica Van Enckevort, a third-year fashion student, was walking through Kerr Hall West at about 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 when a construction worker dropped a 10-foot pole on her head.
“I reported the incident as soon as it happened, and was expecting to hear back from someone,” she said, “I’m assuming they think I have no right to know.”
While Van Enckevort said she doesn’t hold a grudge, nobody has offered her an explanation or an apology.
Both Ryerson and the contracting company blamed the individual worker, who they said was not allowed to be working during the daytime.
“This is a night project,” said Chris Dossett, president of Compass Construction Resources, which contracted a smaller electrical company to do the job. “Had we known the contractor was working at that time, we would have stopped him.”
Van Enckevort said she blacked out, fell to her knees, and was leaning against a locker when she came to.
“The guy who dropped the pipe, one of my teachers and the girl I was walking with were with me when I woke up,” she said. “My friend and I were the only ones walking in the hall, so it was pretty unlucky.”
Van Enckevort was sent from the Health Centre to the emergency room at St. Michael’s Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a concussion.
“I still have pretty bad headaches,” she said Monday.
Since filing a complete report with campus security, as well as dealing directly with Student Services and the Access Centre, Van Enckevort has heard little from the school about the incident.
“It’s been almost two weeks, and nobody has told me anything,” she said.
Ian Hamilton, director of Campus Planning, said he has launched a full investigation of the incident.
“We are continuing to look into it, and will be re-enforcing old security measures or adapting new ones to ensure the safety of students in those halls,” he said.
Hamilton said the school and the contractor had agreed that no work would take place between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. to ensure no students were put at risk.
“This was the protocol for the contractor, and we are looking into why work was occurring outside of those hours,” Hamilton said.
Construction to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in Kerr Hall West has been ongoing since October.
When the construction began, Campus Planning told the Eyeopener that it would not pose a risk to students’ health.
Since then, fashion students in the area have complained of dust and debris and signs warning against asbestos.
Hamilton said that if the contractor plays by the rules laid out by Ryerson, the area will be safe for student traffic.
The two companies and Campus Planning will be meeting next week to discuss the incident. Van Enckevort, hasn’t been invited.
“A lot of the kids in my program freak out when they walk through the hall,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to lose their job, I just want to make sure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
“Now, when I walk through that hallway, all I can remember is the pain.”