Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Weekly Toll: Death in the American Workplace

Our thoughts are with all who have been affected by a workplace death of a loved one. We are here to help in any way. Please visit to view our tributes to other lost workers.

Maintenance Worker Found Deceased

July 29, 2015 - Seattle, WA - Benito Rullan was a maintenance mechanic working at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel when he was found collapsed. It was ruled a natural cause death from heart failure.

Construction Worker Falls Through Skylight

August 1, 2015 - Las Vegas, NV - 49 year old Porfirio Gonzalez-Huerta was on the construction site of a new charter school when he fell to his death. He was a plumber for an unnamed company working on drains and air conditioning units when he fell through a skylight, striking his head on the ground.

Firefighter Caught in Blaze

August 1, 2015 - Modoc National Forest, CA - 38 year old David "Dave" John Ruhl from Rapid City, SD was a firefighter for the Black Hills National Forest who was killed on the job while battling a forest fire in California. He was on voluntary assignment to help fight the "Frog Blaze" in the Modoc National Forest near Alturas, CA. He was scouting the fire zone in a vehicle on a forest road when he the blaze suddenly grew and trapped him.

Allergic Reaction Causes Worker's Death

August 3, 2015 - Riverside, CA - 49 year old Douglas Queen of Los Angeles was working with a crew that was grading a space for a new parking lot and, unbeknownst to them, they ran their blade over an underground sprinkler box that housed this hive of bees. The bees swarmed and stung three workers, causing a deadly allergic reaction in Queen. He was employed by JDI Electrical Solutions of Perris.

Man Buried Under Heavy Equipment

August 3, 2015 - New Town, ND - 65 year old William Makela of Harrisville, MI was killed on the job when he was trapped under a piece of heavy equipment. Witnesses said gravel slid off of a pile, knocking him off his feet before burying him under a loader.

Gold Miner Killed in Incident

August 3, 2015 - Elko, NV - 26 year old Jason Potter of Lava Hot Springs, ID was found unresponsive in an underground gold mine he was working in. He had been operating a "jumbo drill" at the SSX Mine near Elko and it is believed he was trying to move the machine. He was found next the drill, which was against the rib wall, the engine running and transmission in reverse gear. It is thought that he was struck by the drill. He was directly employed by Small Mine Development.

Medical Center Employee Dies a Natural Death

August 4, 2015 - Burien, WA - Megersa Kebebe was an employee for Burien Nursing and Rehab who was found slumped in a chair in the break room. It was determined to be a natural death.

Bulldozer Operator Dies in Rollover

August 4, 2015 - Union, PA - 54 year old Ricky L. Dettman of Falls City, NE was a pipeline worker who died on the job when a machine he was operating rolled on top of him. He was operating a dozer on a steep grade when it rolled down the hill, overturning several times before coming to rest right side up. Dettman was part of a construction crew working on a 36-inch natural gas pipeline to take natural gas out of the Utica Shale delivering it to markets around the country. He was employed by a subcontractor for Regency Energy Partners.

Man Dies in Trench Collapse

August 4, 2015 - Parkman Township, OH - 54 year old Thomas Michael Evers died on the job when he was buried in a 10 foot deep trench that collapse. Evers, a road superintendent for Parkman Township, and another worker were in the trench working on a storm drain when the sides collapsed. His co-worker was not injured.

Silo Collapse Buries Worker

August 4, 2015 - Ashburn, VA - 18 year old Daniel Potter of Front Royal was emptying an 80 foot silo containing mineral filler for asphalt when the silo split open sending the material down onto Potter. It took a search team about 11 hours to locate him. Potter was an employee for Luck Stone Leesburg Quarry.

Office Manager Found Deceased

August 5, 2015 - Stanwood, WA - Cynthia Swanberg , the manager of Lake Goodwin RV Park, was found unresponsive in the park's office. It was determined she died of natural causes.

Airmen Die in Mid Air Collision

August 5, 2015 - Valparaiso, FL - 32 year old  Tech Sgt. Timothy Alan Officer, Jr. (left) and 35 year old Tech Sgt. Marty Benjamin Bettelyoun, both of Fort Walton Beach, FL, died in a special tactics freefall parachute training incident. Both men were from the 24th Special Operations Wing based in Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Man Crushed to Death

August 5, 2015 - Waycross, GA - 35 year old Concepcion Zacatenco Hernandez Jr. of Douglas was crushed to death in an industrial incident at an asphalt plant. He was performing welding work on an asphalt silo when reports say his safety equipment failed and he was crushed. He was an employee of East Coast Asphalt.

Recycling Worker Struck by Truck

August 6, 2015 - Sun Valley, CA - An unidentified employee for a recycling company was fatally struck by a truck on the job. It is not clear who he worked for and attempts to locate his/her name has been unsuccessful to date.

Angry Mother Kills Social Worker

August 7, 2015 - Barre, VT - 48 year old Lara Sobel was a case worker for the State of Vermont, Dept. of Child and Family Services. She was murdered outside the state offices by a woman who lost custody of her daughter and apparently blamed Sobel for her involvement. The suspect, who had a long history of custody issues, was tackled to the ground by bystanders who watched in horror as Sobel was shot twice. The suspect also murdered her two cousins and their mother due to their involvement in the custody issue.

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