WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT: The mother of a teen construction worker who was killed when scaffolding collapsed has revealed details of his horrific death, describing how his lungs were crushed under the rubble.
In April the 18-year-old Sydney apprentice Christopher Cassaniti was crushed to death at a construction site in Macquarie Park after a 15-metre scaffolding tower collapsed on top of him.
The man reportedly screamed for 20 minutes, asking for help and crying out for his mother.
“His lungs were crushed and he died of asphyxiation, so he wasn’t able to breathe,” Patrizia Cassaniti told 60 Minutes on Sunday night.
“I asked the coroner… did he suffer? And they said apparently he would have had so much adrenaline that he may have felt some pain but because he wasn’t able to breathe he would have gone in and out of consciousness.”
Paramedics were initially unable to reach the formworker, who was trapped under rubble with another colleague. He was pronounced dead at the scene a few hours after the incident.
Parents of young tradie killed at work share grief
When she was told her son had died, Mrs Cassaniti said she was in denial.
“I just screamed, because I thought, it's not possible that he has died," she said.
His father Rob Cassaniti said viewing his son's body was "the toughest thing I've ever done".
"He still looked beautiful... But as a parent you don't want that, you don't want to see that, but unfortunately, we had to," Mr Cassaniti said.
Darren Greenfield, the NSW state secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), described the aftermath of the collapse as a “war zone”.
Speaking to 60 minutes, Mr Greenfield said he had been told Mr Cassaniti could be heard "asking for help, asking for his mum" as he lay trapped under the rubble.
“I mean you see grown men crying, and you just think not again, not another one, not another person not going home tonight,” Mr Greenfield said.
Parents call for harsher penalties for workplace deaths
Earlier in May, the couple called for harsher punishments for employers whose employees die in industrial incidents, with the introduction of "Christopher's Law".
Workers in the construction industry are calling for uniform industrial manslaughter laws, 60 Minutes reported on Sunday.
"I promise you to continue until it's done because Christopher and all the others that have died on job sites will not have died in vain," Ms Cassaniti said in footage shown by 60 Minutes.
"It's just going to be a law, and I'm going to call it Christopher's Law," she said.
The circumstances of his death are being investigated by SafeWork NSW and police.
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