POWASSAN – Friends and family are mourning the loss of two local men who were killed in unrelated accidents on the very same day.
Leonard Lang of Trout Creek and Perry Brooks of Powassan both lost their lives on Oct. 9 while doing what they loved.
Lang was visiting his family farm property in Laurier, something he often did, the day of his death.
Police were called at 10:50 a.m. after a tractor Lang had been working with tipped and fell on top of him. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the North Bay hospital.
At 6:15 p.m. that same day, police were called to Perry Brooks’ property on Purdon Line.
According to Shawn Fougere, North Bay OPP, Brooks had been packing the edge of the ditch using a vibrating packer weighing approximately seven tons when the surface gave way and Brooks toppled into the ditch with the machinery landing on top of him.
According to police, one of Brooks’ employees used a backhoe to lift the machinery off of Brooks, while emergency services were en route.
Brooks, was first taken to hospital in North Bay before being airlifted to Sudbury where he succumbed to his injuries.
Born May 1, 1924, Lang dedicated 35 years of his life to the education of children.
Graduating teacher’s college from North Bay Normal School in 1943 at the age of 19, Lang’s first teaching position was at the one-room Hummel School in Trout Creek.
In July of 1946, following a stint in the Armed Forces, he applied for a position as Principal at the Trout Creek Public School where he remained until his retirement in 1979.
“On his retirement, some of the kids wrote notes about him,” said daughter Ann Oshell. “He was a well-respected teacher.”
On Aug. 10, 1948, Leonard married Leona Mechefske and together they raised 10 children.
“He taught my older siblings. Five of us for sure,” said Oshell, remembering her dad’s special knack for keeping the classroom running smoothly.
“He didn’t have to say much to get the class’ attention,” she said. “He just had a look.”
Lang was a charter member of both the Knights of Columbus and the Trout Creek Lions Club, belonged to the Trout Creek Seniors Friendship Club (serving on the board for several years), and served on the Trout Creek Council.
In his later years, the activity perhaps closest to his heart was hobby farming on his homestead property on Lindsay Hill Road, which is where he spent his final moments on Oct. 9.
The Brooks family was in shock after hearing about the tragic accident. Perry’s younger brother Myles found out about the accident at about 7 p.m.
“My wife told me what happened and that he was at the North Bay hospital,” said Myles. “I got there just as he was leaving for Sudbury. I tried to talk to him, but they said he was sedated.”
According to Myles, he was told his brother could speak and move his legs immediately after the machinery was lifted off of him, but the damage caused by his injuries must have progressed while being transferred to hospital.
Brooks, who would have turned 51 on Oct. 15, succumbed to his injuries just before 11 p.m. that night, while in Sudbury hospital.
His death was a shock for his younger brother, with whom he had a special bond.
“He always looked after me when we were younger,” said Myles.
The boys worked driving dump truck for their dad Dale until Perry decided to go out on his own in the early 80s.
“When Perry started hauling lumber out of Northern Ontario, I started driving for him for a bit too,” said Myles, remembering his brother as a no-nonsense business man.
“He was a lot like a detective. He was a very good judge of character,” said Myles. “He always stood up for what he believed in and he would always tell you like it was, even if you didn’t want to hear it,” he added with a laugh.
Myles said being an ambitious businessman was exactly what made his brother tick.
“His passion was working,” said Myles. “He never quit. The thicker it got, the more he liked it.”
Brooks, a father of two, has had an impact on the community, specifically the successful launch of the Powassan Rodeo, as part of the fall fair.
“Putting on the rodeo was a huge task for us to undertake and with him there were no questions asked. He got it done,” said Lorne Byers, rodeo and fall fair organizer and sponsor.
Byers said Brooks came through in a big way this year when it was decided there would be a truck pull added to the fall fair festivities.
“I asked Perry to help us out by entering a truck and his attitude was, how many do you need?” said Byers, chuckling. “He brought five of them.”
Byers said, “Because he tried so hard to help us out, it gives us that much more determination to see it carry on.”
Rodeo co-organizer Lydia Landry echoed Byers’ sentiment.
“He helped us through some tough times,” she said. “He will definitely be missed.”
Because Brooks was working for his own company at the time of the accident, the Ministry of Labour attended the scene and is investigating the incident. The site where the accident took place is on lock-down until that investigation is complete.
In the meantime his family, friends and co-workers are working through their grief.
“They’re pretty shaken up,” said Myles.