weekly toll

Through January 2. Running a bit behind due to vacation. But no vacation from deadly workplace tragedies:  Three workers killed falling off scaffold, worker sucked into airplane engine, yet another trench collapse, machinery incidents, shootings and traffic incidents. In other words, nothing new in the American workplace. On average, over 100 workers are killed every week in the United States due to traumatic injuries suffered at work. More than 20 times as many die from occupational diseases, many due to exposure to hazardous substances many years before they died, or from COVID-19 acquired at work. The few narratives below (gathered from almost 100 Google News searches) do not come close to capturing the full toll that work takes on the working people of this country — even in normal years, much less during the COVID pandemic. Nevertheless the accounts below gave you a taste of the preventable carnage occurring in workplaces across the country every day.

3 Dead, 2 Hurt in North Carolina Construction Site Accident

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Three construction workers were killed and two others were hurt on Monday when scaffolding collapsed in an industrial accident at a job site in Charlotte, North Carolina, authorities said. The scaffolding collapsed just after 9 a.m. at a construction site on East Morehead Street, sending several construction workers falling about 70 feet (21 meters), Fire Capt. Jackie Gilmore said during a news conference. Gilmore said the two injured workers were taken to a hospital to be evaluated. He said all work at the site has been suspended while the incident is investigated by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Worker killed in accident at Cecil County Landfill in Elkton

BALTIMORE, MD — A worker died after heavy machinery fell on him Thursday at Cecil County Landfill in Elkton, the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office said. Investigators believe Christopher Brown, a 37-year-old man from Colora, was performing repairs on a piece of equipment when the machinery fell. Officials said workers in the area saw Brown trapped, called 911, and then removed the machinery to attempt life-saving measures. Brown was employed by a company contracted through the Cecil County government.

American Airlines employee killed after being ‘ingested into engine of a plane

Montgomery, AL — A ground crew employee was killed in what is being described as an industrial accident at a central Alabama airport on Saturday. The Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM) said an employee with American Airlines/Piedmont Airlines died in an accident at the airport before 3 p.m. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Fox News Digital the employee was killed on the ramp at the airport where American Airlines Flight 3408, an Embraer E175 twin-jet, was parked. Data on FlightAware showed the flight was scheduled to depart from Gate 4 in Montgomery for Dallas-Fort Worth Saturday afternoon. Reuters reported two people briefed on the incident said the employee, who was a baggage handler, died in “an accident involving one of the airplane’s engines that was running.”

Construction Worker Killed By Falling Equipment At Brooklyn Job Site

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – A construction worker has tragically died after he was hit by a falling excavator arm at a Brooklyn job site. New York City officials are saying that the accident took place around 9:10 a.m. on Java Street. Construction crew were transporting pipe for a 14 story building project. One of the workers was securing pipe posts to the excavator arm when the machinery failed. A lifting attachment came off and fell on top of the worker. Firefighters and paramedics were called to the scene of the accident in order to help the victim. Sadly, the worker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Worker dies in Aurora trench collapse

AURORA, Colo. — A worker died in a construction trench collapse that occurred in Aurora early Tuesday afternoon. Aurora Fire and rescue teams responded to a report of a worker trapped after a trench gave way in the 17500 block of E. Eastman Dr. at approximately 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The crew had been working on a sewer line in front of a house. Officials say the trench was 12 feet deep at the time of the collapse. Rescue crews were able to recover the body by Tuesday evening.

PA Worker Dies After Falling In Bean Hopper

PENN TOWNSHIP, PA — An employee at a food processing plant in Penn Township is dead after falling into a bean hopper on Tuesday, authorities said. Authorities were called to Hanover Foods at 1550 York St. early Tuesday morning for a reported employee death, York County Coroner Pamela Gay said in a news release. According to authorities, witnesses said the 59-year-old male employee fell in the bean hopper around 2:40 a.m. The coroner’s office said other employees were able to remove the man from the machine and, according to witnesses, he was conscious and standing upright shortly after he was rescued. A short time later, authorities said the man lost consciousness. He was pronounced dead shortly after 3:50 a.m., the coroner’s office said.

Ohio Dollar Tree employee killed in machete attack; suspect arrested

UPPER SANDUSKY, Ohio — A man is charged with murder after he allegedly attacked a dollar store employee with a machete in northwest Ohio Sunday afternoon. Officers with the Upper Sandusky Police Department were called to the Dollar Tree at 1120 East Wyandot Avenue for a report of a man waiving a machete around inside the store. Officers arrived at the store and found 22-year-old Keris Riebel dead at the scene. The man, who police identified as 27-year-old Bethel Bekele, left the store before police arrived. One of the officers found the suspect a short time later on South Fifth Street and arrested him. Investigators learned Bekele entered the store with the machete and struck Riebel multiple times. The weapon was found at the scene.

EMT dies in foggy crash on I-10 while transporting patient

NEW ORLEANS, LA — An emergency medical technician (EMT) was driving an ambulance to bring a patient to a hospital just after midnight when he was killed in a crash on I-10, according to Louisiana State Police. There was dense fog with almost no visibility, authorities with several agencies confirm. John Mitchell Crow was 36 years old and worked with Acadian Ambulance since July 2019. It was a job he loved, according to friends. “He loved his work. He was always helping other people,” Seth Sutton who coaches the softball team Crow played with in New Orleans said. “If someone got hurt on the field, he was the first one to run over.” Crow died just after midnight when his ambulance crashed into the back of an 18-wheeler, according to Acadian Ambulance. He was on I-10 in Slidell.

Worker at Newark plant dies after getting trapped in powder

NEWARK, Calif (BCN) — A worker died in a hopper accident at a Newark gypsum plant and distribution center Tuesday, according to the Alameda County Fire Department, which tried to save the worker’s life that day. Firefighters were told at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday about a worker trapped in a four-story hopper at PABCO Gypsum at 37851 Cherry St. Powder inside the hopper got hung up somehow and the worker went inside the hopper to assess the situation, Alameda County Fire Department Special Operations Division Chief Paige Bowie said. A “very large quantity fell on him,” Bowie said, and he was trapped in the powder, which was a lot like quicksand. Both co-workers and firefighters tried to pull him out unsuccessfully. Firefighters tried to rescue the man from above and below where he was. Bowie said it was deemed unsafe for firefighters or workers to go where the victim was in the hopper. Firefighters eventually cut a hole in the hopper with a Petrogen torch and pulled the man out, Bowie said. The man was pronounced dead. The name of the man was Rodas Jerez, 25, of Burlingame, according to the Alameda County coroner’s bureau.

Employee found dead outside Geisinger Danville Medical Center

DANVILLE, PA — The Montour County coroner has confirmed one person has died outside Geisinger Medical Center Danville campus as police are actively investigating a shooting, according to our news partners at WBRE/WYOU Eyewitness News. According to the Geisinger Chief Medical Officer, the deceased is an employee of the hospital. They were found in the employee parking lot. There are no other reported injuries at this time. The hospital said they are still allowing patients in and out of the emergency room as they go through a “screening process.” Police are currently investigating the shooting. The suspect is unknown at this time and has not been placed in custody, according to the coroner. He also said there were no witnesses.

Customer Kills Georgia Mechanic After Thinking He Was Stealing Car

DeKalb County, GA — A DeKalb auto worker was killed after a customer thought the worker was stealing their car. The incident occurred at the Tires Plus located in DeKalb County shortly before 1:30 p.m. Officers responded to the call and found an employee of the repair tire shop with multiple gunshot wounds. Daniel Gordon, 24, was transported to the hospital, where he died. Detectives say 30-year-old Quadarius McDowell is accused of shooting the victim. DeKalb Police said McDowell had taken his car to the repair shop for service, and at some point, Gordon started to drive McDowell’s car into the parking lot. “The suspect thought the employee was trying to steal his car and fired multiple shots from a handgun, striking the victim,” DeKalb Police said.

Southern California deputy shot, killed during traffic stop

Riverside, CA — A Southern California deputy was shot and killed Thursday afternoon, authorities confirmed, and the suspect was later shot and killed by officers following a police pursuit. Just before 2 p.m. local time, a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy was shot after pulling over a vehicle in the city of Jurupa Valley, according to the sheriff’s department. He later died of his wounds. The deputy was identified as 32-year-old Isaiah Cordero, an eight-year veteran of the department, according to Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco. In a news conference Thursday night, Bianco said Cordero was shot as he approached the suspect’s vehicle after pulling it over. Residents tried to help Cordero until officers and paramedics arrived on scene.

Security guard killed in shooting outside student apartment complex near USC, police say

UNIVERSITY PARK, LOS ANGELES, CA — A security guard for an off-campus apartment complex was shot and killed early Wednesday morning outside the student residential building located less than a mile from the USC campus, police said. The shooting was reported about 12:30 a.m. in front of the Lorenzo student apartments in the 300 block of West Adams Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The Lorenzo’s website describes the facility as “an upscale student housing community near USC.” The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, said LAPD Lt. Ryan Rabbett. Police initially described the man as being in his 30s. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office later said he was in his 40s, adding that his identity was withheld pending notification of his family.

Security Guard Killed in S.F. Japantown

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The San Francisco Police Department issued the following statement about a homicide that occurred in Japantown: “On Jan. 4, 2023, at approximately 5:07 p.m., San Francisco police officers from Northern Station responded to the 1500 block of Webster Street regarding a shooting. Officers located an adult male victim, who was a security guard, suffering from a gunshot wound. Officers rendered aid and summoned medics to the scene. “Despite the lifesaving efforts of emergency responders, the victim succumbed to his injuries and was declared deceased at the scene. ABC7 reporter Dion Lim provided additional details: “A 40-year-old security guard named Gavin Boston was allegedly killed, according to police, by two teen boys, ages 14 and 15 years old.

Tree service worker dies in Wilton after 30-foot fall

Wilton, NY — A tree service worker in Wilton has died after falling on the job. It happened on Mt. McGregor Road around 9 a.m. Wednesday, say investigators. The man, 57, who is from the town of Providence, fell about 30 feet to the ground while working on the tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Veteran Firefighter Dies While Battling Blaze in North Haven

North Haven, CT — A firefighter died while fighting a fire in North Haven early Monday morning, according to fire officials. The fire broke out in a multi-family home at 27 Quinnipiac Avenue just after 1 a.m. Chief Paul Januszewski identified the fallen firefighter as 46-year-old Matthias Wirtz. He was a 22-year veteran of the North Haven Fire Department. Arriving firefighters found heavy smoke coming from rear of the home. Firefighters went into the home to battle the blaze from the inside, according to Januszewski. During the fire attack, a “mayday” was issued for a firefighter down, he said. Wirtz was located outside the structure and emergency crews began medical care immediately, according to Januszewski.

Worker Checking Frozen Pipes Shot by Apartment Resident Who Thought He Was a Burglar

Grand Prairie, TX — There is shock and sadness after an apartment maintenance man checking for broken pipes was shot by a resident who apparently mistook him for a burglar. Grand Prairie police say an apartment resident shot a maintenance worker checking multiple balconies for frozen and busted waterlines on Christmas Eve. It happened around 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 at an apartment complex in the 2900 block of Alouette Drive. When officers arrived they found a maintenance worker on a resident’s balcony with an apparent gunshot wound. The victim, 53-year-old Cesar Montelongo, was rushed to a local hospital where he later died. “As far as we know my dad was just responding to work orders because at his apartment complex he was on call,” said Cesar Montelongo Jr.

Man killed in workplace accident on Christmas Eve

WEISENBERG TOWNSHIP, Pa. – A Salisbury Township man was killed in a workplace accident on Christmas Eve. According to the Lehigh County coroner, Michael David Lugo, 39, was killed around 10:30 a.m. at NFI Industries on West Hills Court in Weisenberg Township. The coroner says he was pinned between a loading dock wall and a trailer, and died from blunt force trauma and traumatic asphyxia.

4 thoughts on “Weeky Toll: More Workplace Carnage Starting the New Year.”
  1. Thanks for your column starting off 2023. Might this be the start of a book in the making, entitled something like “One Year in America” ? I urge you to consider this — many of us read and appreciate the information you bring to us. Developing a book from the columns, with added chapters of analysis, might provide an opportunity to reach out to a larger community.

  2. Noting two people shot by trigger-happy people who assumed a crime was being committed. I hope they are punished appropriately. Is there guidance or best practice for employees who deal with other people’s property, ringing doorbells, walking into yards, driving other people’s cars? (I’m sure there are no rules) Maybe I’m drawing too many assumptions from news anecdotes, but this seems like something growing more common.

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