An Alberta teen who died after being pulled into a gravel crusher had intended to quit his construction job and find work closer to home, his girlfriend says.

Chris Lawrence, 15, was operating the crusher at a gravel pit south of East Coulee in Drumheller Saturday morning, when a loose article of clothing got caught, his girlfriend Kristina Kinder told CTV Calgary.

Paramedics, firefighters, and RCMP were called shortly before 9 a.m., but Lawrence was pronounced dead at the scene.

“After this weekend, he was going to quit,” Kinder, 17, told CTV in a telephone interview. “He was going to come home because he hated being away. We were going to find a new job for him because he hated it.”

The couple was desperate for money, Kinder said, explaining why Lawrence took the job.

“We were living in my car,” she said. “We didn’t really know what we were going to do. So he took (the job) knowing that it was the only thing that would help us at the time.”

“Every time he left,” she added, “I told him to be careful because I knew the dangers and the risks involved.”

Lawrence would have turned 16 on Monday.

The company, Calgary-based Arjon Construction Ltd., hired Lawrence more than a month ago. Lawrence was still in training at the time of the incident, the company said over the weekend.

Manager Darryl Wiebe said the incident was the first of its kind in the company’s 40-year-history. Wiebe said a grief counsellor was at the site to help grief-stricken employees.

CTV Calgary reports that Wiebe only learned after the incident that Lawrence was 15 years old. The company’s minimum age requirement for employees is 18.

Lawrence’s girlfriend says he was a legitimate company employee who provided his social insurance number, and so his age would have been clear to those who hired him.

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety is investigating the incident. The minimum age to work at a gravel site and to operate heavy machinery is 15, the provincial department said. Younger workers can work any type of job as long as it’s not between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., OHS spokesperson Kim Misik said.

“Our investigators are on scene and will be looking at a number of different areas including hazard assessment, equipment and training offered,” Misik said.

With a report from CTV Calgary’s Jamie Mauracher