Scores of Toronto transit workers paid solemn tribute Wednesday to one of their own, joining grieving relatives in remembering a man whose integrity and kindness they called an inspiration to all who knew him.
A sombre crowd gathered for the funeral of Peter Pavlovski, 49, who died on the job Friday after being hit by a service train just north of the city.
The married father of three was a Toronto Transit Commission employee for 22 years and had just celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary the week before his death. His niece told the packed Macedonian Orthodox church, and those who watched the service on large screens in a second hall and outside, that her uncle was “someone you could look up to every day.”
“We always knew that he was loyal, a very loyal, dedicated family man that worked extremely hard and had that Pavlovski work ethic at everything he did,” Melanie Pavlovski said.
She choked up as she recalled her uncle’s “distinct and contagious smile” and his close bond with his large family, whom he often brought together over lavish meals.
“We also learned in the past couple of days about how much he was respected and loved by his colleagues at the TTC,” she said, noting many considered him part of their “work family.”
They came in droves to bid a final farewell, some still in uniform and many wearing black armbands – a tribute to a colleague killed in the line of duty.
That so many of Mr. Pavlovski’s colleagues gathered to pay their respects shows how deeply he touched those around him, said Derek Borg, who was his TTC partner for a year.
“People showed their emotions,” he said after the service.
“The way he died was just unfair, dying so young.”
The commission’s CEO, Andy Byford, said Mr. Pavlovski was well known and very well liked.
“There’s a real sense of trauma, a real sense of shock, but I think today will translate really into a sense of pride that we knew him and that we loved him,” he said outside the church.
TTC buses, streetcars and subways came to a halt at 10 a.m. and paused for a minute to honour him.
Mr. Pavlovski was supervising a crew of seven workers on an elevated track area when he was struck by the southbound train just before 5 a.m.
A second man was also hit but suffered only minor injuries. Toronto police, the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the transit commission have all launched investigations into the incident.
It’s the first time in five years that a Toronto transit worker has been killed on the job.
Tunnel worker Tony Almeida died in April, 2007, after a subway train crash between two stations. Two other workers were also injured.
An investigation into that incident resulted in a $200,000 fine against the TTC.