Friday, May 15, 2009

Weekly Toll: Death in the American Workplace

Fatally shot livery cab driver drives car into wall to trap killer

May 10, New York, New York - Cab drivers gather at the scene in the Bronx where livery cab driver Roberto Pita was shot and killed. A mortally wounded livery cab driver's final act made sure his killer was trapped in the backseat, police and witnesses said Sunday. Roberto Pita, 37, was drawing his last breaths when he slammed his black Lincoln Town Car into a concrete wall on West Tremont Ave. in the Bronx. The crash pinned his thug assailant in the backseat, where cops found him moments later. Pita, who was shot several times in the back, died in the car that he drove 16 hours a day to earn money for his wife and two children in Ecuador, his dispatcher said.

Explosion in Box Elder County kills farmer, 59

May 8, Salt Lake City, Utah - A 59-year-old man was killed in a dynamite explosion Friday on his farm in Box Elder County. The Box Elder County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call around 10:45 a.m. near Promontory Point. When they arrived at the scene, they found a farm owner in critical condition with a head injury, said Box Elder County Chief Deputy Kevin Potter. The man, whose name has not been released, died shortly before 5 p.m., said Sgt. Jim Summerill.

Body shop owner killed at work

May 9, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin - A longtime body shop owner is found dead at his Beaver Dam shop after a car fell on him. Town of Beaver Dam Police said a race car rolled off four weight monitors at Falbe Crash 1 Collision Center and fell on 50-year-old Jeff Falbe. Two customers came to the shop arond 9 p.m. and found the Beaver Dam man trapped. Police said the death appears to be an accident.

Man, 67, dies after tractor rolls over him

May 9, Spokane, Washington - A Deer Park man died Friday after the tractor he was working on ran over him before crashing through a door and continuing into a field. The 67-year-old victim was working on his fixed-throttle farm tractor at his home in the 29200 block of Spotted Road when it suddenly started and rolled over his chest, said Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan. The man had been unable to get the tractor running, Reagan said. The machine then crashed through a closed shop door and went into a field, where it made an abrupt turn and rammed through a corral before crashing into a tree, Reagan said.

Omaha teen dies when forklift falls on him

May 9, Omaha, Nebraska - Federal labor officials will investigate the death of a 17-year-old employee killed in a forklift accident at his south Omaha workplace. Miguel Herrera-Soltero was driving a forklift out of a meat rendering plant at 5102 S. 26th St. about 10:25 p.m. Friday. The forklift was on a ramp and tipped over. He fell out and the forklift landed on top of him. His employer, Progressive Protein, issued a statement Saturday expressing condolences to the family. The firm declined to comment further pending the outcome of an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Krystal employee shoots boss, turns gun on self

May 9, Atlanta, Georgia - One person was dead and another wounded early Saturday following a workplace shooting at a Clayton County fast-food restaurant. Clayton police spokesman Tim Owens said the shooting happened about 5 a.m. at the Krystal restaurant on Ga. 138 in Stockbridge. The Krystal manager and an employee were preparing to open the restaurant when the employee apparently got upset with the manager over a reduction in work hours, Owens said. The employee shot the manager in the leg, then turned the gun on himself. Owens said the employee, whose name was being withheld until relatives could be notified, later died.

Las Vegas Metro Officer Killed in Car Crash

May 8, Las Vegas, Nevada - A Metro police officer is dead after a car crash involving a patrol cruiser and a pickup truck early Thursday morning. Police believe alcohol was a factor in the crash. Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie says 28-year-old Officer James Manor was responding to a report of a domestic dispute when the driver of a pickup truck coming from the opposite direction turned left in front of him on Flamingo Road. Despite what some witnesses have reported, police say they can prove that Manor was responding to the call using his lights and siren.

Worker killed in industrial plant accident

May 8, Detroit, Michigan - A worker has been killed at a DTE Energy facility that produces carbonized coal for blast furnaces during the steel-making process. DTE Energy ( DTE - news - people ) spokesman Len Singer says the employee was performing routine maintenance on equipment at the DTE Energy Services coke plant on Zug Island in River Rouge when he was accidentally killed about 10:30 a.m. Friday. Singer had no information on the type of accident. He says the utility, state officials and River Rouge police are investigating the death.

Worker Killed in Benton Crane Accident

May 7, Benton, Arkansas - Police say a worker at a road construction site in Benton died after being hit by a pivoting crane. Benton police said the accident that killed Mark Abbott, 45, occurred at about 10:00 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Edison and Benton Parkway, where workers are building an overpass over a set of railroad tracks. Benton Assistant Fire Chief Mark Mills told The Associated Press that the crane at one end of the overpass had been lifting concrete. Mills said that, when he arrived, it appeared as though the crane had pivoted and hit the worker.

Autopsy: Group home worker beaten to death

May 7, Raleigh, North Carolina — A direct-care worker at the Dickens Drive Group Home was beaten to death, according to an autopsy report released Thursday. A co-worker found Rebecca Ezeoha Thompkins, 44, face-down and covered with blood in a bathtub at the home for mentally disabled patients on March 27. Another counselor and six residents were present at that time. An autopsy found that Thompkins had a fractured skull, a deep cut on the left side of her face and broken bones in her neck.

Utility worker dies in trench accident

May 6, Charlotte, North Carolina - A utility subcontractor working in a trench located outside an Arlington city water tower under construction was killed Wednesday when a dirt wall collapsed. Fire Department officials say the trench was about 10 to 15 feet deep. The water tower is located at 1103 E. Arkansas Lane. The subcontractor was connecting electrical power in the trench at approximately 7:43 a.m. Wednesday, said Assistant Fire Chief Alan Kassen. Police, fire and officials from the city's water utilities department are working with investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

DPW Worker hurt in truck accident dies

May 7, Fall River, Massachusetts - A Fall River Department of Public Works employee who was injured after falling from a work truck on Tuesday night has died. Mayor Robert Correia's office says that the victim, 49 year-old John Carvalho died at Charlton Hospital on Thursday afternoon. Carvalho was in the hospital with head and neck injuries since the accident. The incident happened on Nichols Street shortly after 5 o'clock on Tuesday.

Witnesses react to crash that killed Metro Officer Manor

May 8, Las Vegas, Nevada - Metro Officer James Manor died Thursday just before 1am while responding to a domestic disturbance call. Metro says Officer Manor was driving Eastbound on Flamingo near Ravenwood, on his way to a call, when another driver turned in front of him. The cars collided head-on. 28 - year - old Officer Manor was pronounced dead at University Medical Center. The driver of the other car, 45 - year - old Calvin Darling, was also taken to UMC. He's expected to be okay. He is charged with felony DUI with death and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

Worker killed in crane accident in Benton

May 7, Benton, Arkansas - Police say a worker at a road construction site in Benton died after being hit by a pivoting crane. Benton police said the accident that killed Mark Abbott, 45, occurred at about 10 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Edison and Benton Parkway, where workers are building an overpass over a set of railroad tracks. Benton Assistant Fire Chief Mark Mills told The Associated Press that the crane at one end of the overpass had been lifting concrete. Mills said that, when he arrived, it appeared as though the crane had pivoted and hit the worker. Abbott was taken to a local hospital, where he died.

UPS Employee Dies After Being Pinned By Truck

May 7, Jackson, Massachusetts -- A United Parcel Service employee died after a UPS driver backed over him, pinning him against a wall, officials said. The incident happened at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday at the UPS facility off McDowell Road, police said. The driver did not realize the 51-year-old man was standing behind the truck when he backed up, police said. The names of those involved were not immediately released.

Local rancher Yates killed in tractor accident

May 6, Holister, California - A San Benito County rancher was killed near Orchard Road in a tractor accident late last week, Sgt. Susan Taylor with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office confirmed today. The 67-year-old local rancher, Leonard Yates, died on Friday afternoon from the accident. Details were unavailable as of press time on how it transpired, but an initial call across the police scanner noted how the man had been run over by a tractor. Yates was in his alfalfa field on the 2600 block of Orchard Road baling hay on his tractor before it occurred, Taylor said. He then got off to look at something, and the machine started moving. Taylor said the tractor caused the fatal injuries to Yates, but the sergeant could provide no more detail.

John Newhouse identified as man who died in vineyard accident

May 6, Yakima, Washington -- The person who died after an industrial accident at the Uplands Estate winery Tuesday was one of the owners, John Newhouse, not a winery worker as was originally reported. His wife, Cherri Newhouse, confirmed her husband’s death when reached by phone today. John Newhouse, 50, was involved in an accident Tuesday that nearly amputated his arm while he was replacing a fan on a sprayer machine. He was airlifted first to Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, then to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Name Released in Fatal Langlade County Farming Accident

May 5, Wausau, Wisconsin - Langlade County Sheriff William Greening says a 50-year-old Mark Ackerman was run over when a potato planter having mechanical problems backed over him and another worker. The sheriff says it happened just before 10 Tuesday morning off of Church Rd in the Town of Neva at J.W. Mattek and Sons Farm about four miles north of Antigo.He says a 32-year-old worker was seriously injured in the accident.

Worker killed in Arlington trench collapse identified

May 6, Arlington, Texas - Officials have released the name of the worker who was killed early Wednesday when a trench collapsed on him near a new water tower on the east side of Arlington. The man, identified by the Tarrant County medical examiner's office as Robert Harrell, 34, of Grand Prairie, was married with two children, an Arlington fire official said. His body was recovered shortly before 1 p.m. after it was trapped beneath 10-15 feet of dirt. The contractor on the project is Fort Worth-based Landmark Structures, which builds water towers.

Verizon worker killed in fall

May 5, Anna, Illinois - A Verizon worker died after falling from a ladder while on the job, according to Anna Police Department Sgt. Alfred Camp. Camp said Mark Fromm, 47, of Anna, formerly of Ridgway, fell from what he estimated was a 20-foot-tall work ladder on George Street in Anna. Camp said he was dispatched to the scene Thursday after a neighbor saw Fromm fall from the ladder and ran to another neighbor's house to call 911. "When I got there it appeared as though he had fallen from the ladder and the ambulance had beaten me there," Camp said. "They were loading him up."

One man dead after accident at VIM Recycling

May 6, South Bend, Indiana - An accident at a recycling plant in Elkhart takes the life of a father of three. It's the second death at the VIM plant in less than two years. VIM says 40-year old José Luis was killed while he was working alongside an excavator that was loading wood into a shredder around 10:00am Wednesday morning. They say the person running the equipment must have lost sight of Luis on the ground, and Luis was struck by either the machinery or a load of wood that it was carrying.

Worker's death in Novato investigated as possible electrocution

May 4, Walnut Creek, California - The death of a construction worker last week in Novato is being investigated by state and Marin County authorities as a possible electrocution. The man was identified by the Marin County coroner's office as Samuel Flores, 32, of Richmond. He died last Tuesday at Novato Community Hospital after collapsing at a Novato Sanitary District pump station undergoing renovation in Bel Marin Keys. According to site construction manager Steve Wrightson of the Covello Group, Flores collapsed on a sidewalk and was originally thought to have died from a heart attack, stroke or seizure. On Wednesday, the coroner's office and state Division of Occupational Safety and Health opted to investigate the death.

Worker at New Bedford plant crushed in ice machine

May 4, New Bedford, Massachusetts — Authorities are investigating the death of a worker who became caught in an industrial ice-making machine at a seafood processing plant in New Bedford. A spokesman for the Bristol District Attorney’s office says 40-year-old Joseph Teixeira of New Bedford got caught in the machine Monday morning at the Northern Wind Inc. facility. At least part of the victim’s body was crushed in the machine. Investigators believe the death was accidental, but an autopsy is planned to determine cause of death.

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