Weekly Toll

Last week witnessed two workplace catastrophes: 6 workers were killed in a highway construction zone in Maryland and 7 were killed in a chocolate factory explosion in Pennsylvania. Otherwise, the usual falls, drownings, shootings and machinery deaths that we see every week.  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. 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. Nevertheless the accounts below gave you a taste of the preventable carnage occurring in workplaces across the country every day.

Death toll in Pennsylvania chocolate factory explosion climbs to 7

West Reading, PA — The remains of two more victims of the chocolate factory explosion in Pennsylvania were discovered late Sunday, bringing its death toll to seven, authorities in the borough of West Reading said. The incident happened at approximately 5 p.m. Friday evening. Witnesses reported hearing an explosion coming from the candy factory, then saw flames shortly after. There has been no official word on the cause of this blast, including whether it was caused by a gas leak. A spokesperson for UGI Utilities said crews were brought in after damage from the blast led to the release of gas that was helping to feed the four-alarm fire that erupted after the explosion. Frankie Gonzalez, 40, stood on a hillside overlooking the damage on Saturday afternoon, waiting for an update on his sister, Diana Cedeno, 45, a factory worker who has been missing since the explosion. Mr. Gonzalez said other workers had told him that before the explosion, they had been warning each other that they smelled natural gas and reported it to plant managers. He said that his son and a nephew had worked at the factory within the past year and had also told their supervisors they smelled gas.  Amy Sandoe, 49, of Ephrata, and Domingo Cruz, 60, of Reading, were among the seven killed in the blast, the coroner said late Sunday night.

6 road construction workers die in Maryland when car crashes into them

Baltimore, Maryland — The deaths of six construction workers in a crash Wednesday along a busy Maryland highway are putting a spotlight on the dangers road crews face as highway projects increase across the country. Video recorded by a Maryland Department of Transportation traffic camera and obtained by The Washington Post shows an Acura changing lanes to the left and colliding with a Volkswagen, which was in the far left lane. The video shows the work crew was largely protected by concrete barriers, but the Acura went through a gap in the wall and barreled into them. Maryland State Police identified the dead workers as Rolando Ruiz, 46, of Laurel; Carlos Orlando Villatoro Escobar, 43, of Frederick; Jose Armando Escobar, 52, of Frederick; Mahlon Simmons III, 31, of Union Bridge; Mahlon Simmons II, 52, of Union Bridge; and Sybil Lee DiMaggio, 46, of Glen Burnie.

Worker dies after being trapped in machinery at Bulls Gap facility

Bulls Gap, TN — A man who became trapped in a machine at a Bulls Gap manufacturing plant was airlifted to an area hospital Sunday where the employee later died. The man’s identity has not been released publicly. First responders were called to the Barette’s Outdoor Living facility, on North Main Street in Bulls Gap, at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 19 after a worker became trapped in a piece of machinery on site. Members of the Hawkins County Rescue Squad responded along with other emergency responders from multiple other agencies responded to the scene. Prior to arrival of emergency responders, the patient was freed from the machinery. Responders worked tirelessly on scene treating the patient for multiple injuries. The patient was transported to an area medical center by UT LifeStar from the scene where the man died from his injuries.

Two incidents in one day at Southern Illinois coal mine leave one dead and five injured

Mt. Vernon, IL — One employee died and five were taken to the hospital after two separate incidents at a coal mine near Mt. Vernon on Saturday, according to reports by TV stations in the region. Both incidents took place at the Hamilton County Coal facility in Dahlgren. In a statement, General Manager of Operations Jay Emery told Carterville-based WSIL-TV that the first incident occurred just after 2 a.m. Saturday at Hamilton No. 1 Mine, where an underground roof fell while an employee was installing supplemental roof support. Co-workers were able to reach the employee and tried to resuscitate him while moving him to the mine’s surface, according to the statement. He was pronounced dead about an hour later at Hamilton Memorial Hospital in McLeansboro. On Sunday night, Hamilton County Coroner Steve Bowling identified the man who was killed as Cameron Fourez, 41, of West Frankfort.

Worker struck and killed by front end loader Friday at Kansas City waste disposal site

Kansas City, MO — The employee of a Kansas City waste disposal site was killed on Friday after being hit by a Volvo Heavy Front End Loader, according to police. Officers were called to the site at 4:28 p.m. on 4020 Winchester Avenue on reports a pedestrian was fatally struck by the vehicle, said Officer Donna Drake, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City Police Department. An investigation determined the victim was working at the site before being struck by the vehicle. Authorities declared her dead shortly after the crash.

Man shot, killed by passenger while working 2nd job as Lyft driver, family says

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Police in Louisiana say a man was shot and killed while working for Lyft and picking up a passenger. WVUE reports that 32-year-old Marvin Enrique Bardales Valle picked up 19-year-old passenger Tarius Tully on March 9 with the encounter ending in an overnight fatal shooting. New Orleans police said they were able to track down Tully and arrest him on March 14. He is facing a second-degree murder charge.

Construction Worker Falls to His Death at Chase Bank Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan

New York, NY — A construction worker died after falling multiple stories at the new Chase Bank headquarters being built in midtown Manhattan, according to city officials. The worker, who has not yet been identified, was working on the 12th floor of the building being constructed on Park Avenue between East 47th and 48th streets, the city’s Department of Buildings said. The DOB said the worker lost balance and fell 20 feet through a hole. The individual was pronounced dead at the scene.

Louisiana officers killed in helicopter crash

Baton Rouge, LA — A Baton Rouge police helicopter crashed Sunday in West Baton Rouge Parish, killing two local police officers, according to the Baton Rouge Police Department. “The incident is currently being investigated by multiple law enforcement agencies, as well as other entities that regulate aviation and airspace travel,” the Baton Rouge Police Department said. Authorities said the BRPD helicopter crashed into a cane field off North Winterville Road, just off U.S. Highway 190.

Worker killed by road grader he was operating in southeast Minnesota

Millville, MN — A construction worker was killed when he was struck by the road grader he was operating in Wabasha County. The Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office says the incident happened around 10:50 a.m. on Thursday at 330th Avenue and County Road 72, west of Millville. Deputies arrived to find 61-year-old Robert Staub dead at the scene after receiving a 911 call stating that he had been struck by a road grader. “Staub was the driver of the grader and it appears he stopped to make repairs when he was struck by the vehicle,” the sheriff’s office said.

Utility worker killed when deputy runs over cable, throwing him to ground, family says BY M

Blount County, AL — Andrew Schwam, 35, was killed while working as an electric lineman at a site in Alabama, according to his sister. His family is seeking answers about his death. Screengrab from Porsche Schwam on Facebook An electric lineman’s family says they are seeking justice after he was killed in an incident at a work site in Alabama. Andrew Schwam, 35, was installing a cable on March 18 when a Blount County sheriff’s deputy drove over part of the cable, causing it to snap back and hit him, his sister, Savannah Schwam Stonebrook said in a TikTok video.


Key Largo, FL — A 29-year-old Homestead man died on March 21 after a construction crane fell over in Key Largo. According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Jose Eduardo Reyes Ponce was an Upper Keys Marine Construction worker who was working with a crew to install dock pilings in the water. The workers were in the area of Mutiny Place when the crane fell into the water around 3:30 p.m. Ponce was pronounced dead at the scene. Foul play does not appear to be a factor in the incident, according to the sheriff’s office. Autopsy results are pending.

Coroner ID’s Perris Man Killed In Industrial Accident

PERRIS, CA — A man who died from an industrial injury near Indio was identified as a 53-year-old Perris resident Tuesday. The Riverside County coroner’s office identified him as Teodolfo Morga Rivera. Sheriff’s deputies responded at around 11 a.m. to the 88200 block of Fargo Canyon Road Monday to a report of a fatal industrial-related accident, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department public information officer Wendy Brito- Gonzalez told City News Service.

Worker dies at Egger Wood Products facility in Linwood

LINWOOD, N.C. — A worker died at a North Carolina wood products facility Thursday evening. EGGER Wood Products said an employee “lost his life at our Linwood, N.C. facility.” EGGER Wood Products is making mental health counselors available to employees who need support. The company said it is gathering facts surrounding the incident and cooperating with safety officials.

Customer shoots and kills car dealership worker in argument over vehicle,

Middleton, WI — A worker at MSI Auto Sales in Middleton, Wisconsin, was shot and killed by a former customer, cops say.  A woman is charged with murder after police in Wisconsin say she fatally shot a worker at a car dealership she had bought a vehicle from. The shooting happened around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 20, at MSI Auto Sales in Middleton. Police said the male victim was shot once and died at a hospital. Officers said Jakira Anderson shot the worker as they were arguing over a previous vehicle purchase. Anderson, 23, fled the dealership and was caught about two hours later in the nearby town of Madison, police said.

School bus monitor killed in crash with pickup truck in Oswego County

NEW HAVEN, NY (WBNG) — A school bus monitor died from injuries she sustained in a crash while on the bus in Oswego County on Wednesday. New York State Police responded to a crash involving a Mexico Academy Central School Bus and pickup truck at an intersection in New Haven. Investigators determined that the driver of the school bus failed to stop for a stop sign and drove into the path of a 2022 Dodge pickup truck. Theresa A. Steele, 63, the bus monitor, was taken to Upstate University Hospital with severe head injuries, where she eventually succumbed to them.

Okla. officer succumbs to injuries after crash during procession for fallen LEO

MCALESTER, Okla. — The McAlester Police Department announced Patrolman Joseph Barlow died Monday after succumbing to injuries received in a head-on collision. Barlow died Monday at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa from injuries received in a head-on collision Friday during an escort for fallen McAlester Police Capt. Richard Parker. Several officers from MPD traveled to Tulsa Friday to escort Parker from the medical examiner’s office to a funeral home in Wetumka. The Glenpool Police Department said officers were notified around 6:27 p.m. on Friday, March 17, of a head-on collision on Highway 75 just north of 151st St. South. Martin Rodriguez was driving a black Ford F-250 truck with one passenger, failed to stop for the procession and swerved to avoid hitting a stopped vehicle, according to Glenpool PD. Glenpool PD said the truck then crossed the center median and struck the McAlester police vehicle head-on. Barlow had to be extracted from his patrol unit and was taken by ambulance to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa and underwent multiple surgeries.

Cerro Gordo Conservation worker dies after accident

Cerro Gordo, IA — A Cerro Gordo County Conservation worker was killed in a work-related accident Thursday. According to County Conservation Director Josh Brandt, 44-year-old Cory Behr of Rockwell was killed while working at Lime Creek Nature Center. Brandt declined to go into detail about the accident’s circumstances.

McDonald’s worker killed during overnight shooting at Augusta restaurant

Augusta, GA — A McDonald’s employee was fatally shot early Sunday at the restaurant on Peach Orchard Road in Augusta, authorities said. Daquantavious “Quan” Proctor, 19, of Augusta, was found shot after deputies were called at 1:20 a.m. Sunday, and he was pronounced dead an hour later by the coroner’s office. Sheriff’s officials have released few details on the crime, including whether it happened inside or outside of the fast-food establishment. Proctor worked at the Peach Orchard Road restaurant where he was killed. A friend who saw him walking to work last Tuesday told him to “be safe.” According to online posts, Proctor was the father of a young daughter and was expecting a second child.

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