Man arrested following excavator rampage that damaged Winnipeg water treatment plant

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RCMP
In photographs distributed by the RCMP, several vehicles were shown to be crushed by the excavator. Damage was also visible to the building’s roof and bay doors. Photo Credit: RCMP Handout

A Winnipeg man faces charges after he allegedly used an on-site excavator to cause millions of dollars in damage to structures and vehicles at the City of Winnipeg’s Deacon Reservoir water treatment plant.

Local RCMP officers arrested Aaron Yarema, 39, on September 3, at approximately 2:50 a.m., after witnessing him use the water treatment plant’s excavator to damage the building, which was built in 2005.

Photo Credit: RCMP Handout

“Officers approached the excavator and climbed aboard, ordering the operator to stop the machine. He refused and a demand was made a second time, with which he complied,” the Oakbank RCMP announced in a statement.

City of Winnipeg councillor Brian Mayes, also vice-chair of the provincial-municipal wastewater task force, said that the excavator’s extensive damage to the vehicles and buildings could exceed $1 million; however, all plant staff were unharmed, and there was no impact to treatment operations.

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Mayes told local media that he wants to ensure the city’s water infrastructure remains secure. He will also be investigating the insurance arrangements around what he called an “alarming” situation. A full audit of the plant’s security is now underway.   

In photographs distributed by the RCMP, several vehicles were shown to be crushed by the excavator. Damage was also visible to the building’s roof and bay doors. According to CTV News, a report to the city’s water, waste, and environment committee last week puts the estimated damage between four and five million dollars.

The suspect resisted arrest and assaulted the officers while being taken into custody. Neither the officers nor the suspect were injured, according to police, who continue their investigation.

Photo Credit: RCMP Handout

Charges laid include theft of a motor vehicle, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, breaking and entering, two counts of resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, mischief over $5,000, and failure to comply with a release order.

Water is stored at the Deacon Reservoir to handle peak summer demands for water and to allow brief shutdowns of the aqueduct for maintenance. The four large outdoor reservoirs hold up to 8.8 billion litres of water.

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