Crane and Hoist Canada

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Country singer pays tribute to cousin killed in Kelowna crane collapse

July 20, 2021  By Crane & Hoist Canada Staff

Canadian country singer Aaron Pritchett paid tribute to his cousin Cailen Vilness, one of the five victims of the Kelowna crane incident on July 12.

“Cailen was my first cousin Danielle‚Äôs youngest son and, although he technically was a 2nd cousin to me, Cailen was my nephew. I was always Uncle Aaron to him and I love him as one,” Pritchett wrote on Twitter. “Every time I happened to be in Kelowna, Cailen would drop everything to visit. He would do that for anyone in his family whom he never had the chance to see often, because family meant the world to Cailen.”

Vilness, 23, was working on the crane when it collapsed. He was killed, along with Eric Stemmer, Patrick Stemmer, Jared Zook and Brad Zawislak.

“His infectious smile and laugh, sense of kindness and care warmed my heart, and anyone he met. He truly was a prince of a man, and all who met him would say the same about Cailen,” said Pritchett.


He told the story of Vilness’ mom, who has beat brain cancer twice. And his girlfriend Jaydean.

“The two of them were making plans to get married and spend the rest of their lives together but sadly cut short. But with the similar heart of gold Jaydean possesses, and knowing that Cailen loved her as much as he did, Jaydean will be a member of our family for life.”

“You will be missed by all and always loved, Cailen, and never, ever forgotten. I look forward to seeing you again someday. I love you, buddy,” he wrote.

Supporting the victims’ families

A number of fundraisers have been set up to help the victims of the crane collapse.

Cailen Vilness. Photo: Twitter/Aaron Pritchett

Cailen Vilness:

Amount raised to date: $63,694

Photo: GoFundMe

Jared Zook:

Amount raised to date: $52,815

Photo: GoFundMe

Eric and Patrick Stemmer:

Amount raised to date: $169,579

Photo: GoFundMe

Brad Zawislak:

Amount raised to date: $297,121




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