Friends and family mourn two Milton arborists killed in GTA windstorm


This article is from the Toronto Star. The article can be found here.

Adam Sura, 28, and Zach Plater, 18, were struck by a fallen tree, moments after clearing branches off a road.


Adam Sura, left, and Zach Plater were struck and killed by a fallen tree, moments after clearing branches off a Milton road. (FACEBOOK)

A party was planned for Saturday to celebrate their friend’s 28th birthday and his move into a new place. Instead, it became a day to mourn Adam Sura’s death.

Sura and Zach Plater, 18, were both struck by a tree in rural Milton, after windy conditions spiralled into a deadly storm in the GTA on Friday.

The pair, who were arborists with Miller Tree Services, had been clearing branches from a road near Fourth Line and 20 Sideroad to allow for a school bus, with students aboard, to pass. That’s when the tree fell.

Sura was pronounced dead at the scene, one day after his birthday.

“He was the glue in our friend group. Everybody’s a mess right now,” said Jay Stewart, Sura’s friend of nearly a decade.

“He’s just an absolute ray of sunshine. He changed everybody’s life for the better.”

Sura, a Humber College graduate from Orangeville, enjoyed snowboarding, sports and making rap music with his friends.

Above all, he loved his work and trees.

“He wanted to be an arborist, he was the ‘safety guy’ about it … He was all about protocol, and that just makes it worse,” Stewart said.

Friday’s windstorm saw gusts of up to 110 km/h uprooting trees, tearing shingles off roofs and downing power lines.

Stewart said there are feelings of anger that Sura was working during the storm.

“There’s been times where he hasn’t gone to work for less than that windstorm,” he said.

Peter Wynnyczuk, an urban forestry consultant with 40 years in the industry, said there is no textbook approach to personal safety in emergency situations. It’s a decision based on individual experience.

“It’s all about assessing the situation for the risks. Whether it’s overhead hydro, whether it’s broken branches in the canopy already … there’s so many variables involved. It takes years of experience to, shall we say, assemble the pieces in order to approach areas safely,” he said.

Sura’s funeral will take place later this week. In September, a tree will be planted in his memory at the Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville, according to his online death notice.

“I’ve honestly never met such an all-around great person and I am grateful for anybody who got the chance to get to know him and experience the energy he always carried,” said Patrick Younger, a longtime friend.

Sura’s colleague, Plater, died in hospital.


Two men working for a tree removal service were struck and trapped by a falling tree on Fourth Line just north of 20 Sideroad in Nassagaweya just before 5 p.m. Friday.  (GRAHAM PAINE/METROLAND)

Plater was a star basketball and football player at Milton District High School, where he was named the 2016-17 athlete of the year.

“He was my best friend. And family. His family is in pure grief and we are all still in shock,” said a close friend in a message to the Star, adding he was not ready to speak about Plater’s death.

Friends shared heartfelt condolences and photos of Plater on a Facebook tribute page, tracing his life back to the days of Harry Potter Halloween costumes and middle school dances.

“Words cannot express the devastating impact the loss of 2 of our teammates has had on their families and our team. The loss of our friends has been truly horrific,” the Miller Tree Services company said in a Twitter post.

Meanwhile, a third person died in downtown Toronto during the windstorm.

Dimitrios “Jimmy” Critselas was struck by a piece of scaffolding while standing near a construction site at College and Yonge Sts.

The 38-year-old worked at Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario, and competed in poker tournaments, according to a Facebook post by a family member.

“Lion-Heart Jimmy, you were loved by all! No longer in our life to share, but in our hearts you’re always there,” it said.

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