Friday, August 13, 2004

The Weekly Toll

Ky. Oil, Gas Well Blast Kills Three

BULAN, Ky. - An oil and natural gas well exploded in a small eastern Kentucky community, killing three workmen, authorities said. The well continued to belch flames and black smoke Thursday.

The well exploded into flames Wednesday afternoon with a force that shook nearby homes; investigators were not sure what sparked the blast. Flames and heat from a fire that raged for more than 24 hours may have destroyed any clues to the cause.

"We may never know," said Rick Bender, director of the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas, the agency that regulates the state's drilling industry.

William Douglas Bell, 37, of Helenwood, Tenn., died Thursday at Cincinnati University Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. Two others, Bill Chandler, 36, of Lost Creek, Ky., and Patrick Jeffers, 29, of Winfield, Tenn., were killed Wednesday.

Bossier City officer killed, suspect found dead

BOSSIER CITY, La. Funeral services are scheduled Saturday for a Bossier City police officer, who was shot to death as he arrived at a house to investigate a 9-1-1 call. Police say the suspected gunman was later found dead inside the house.
Bossier City and Shreveport police, sheriff's deputies and state police converged on the neighborhood yesterday and surrounded the gunman, who had barricaded himself inside the house.

The patrolman, Trey Hutchison, was airlifted to L-S-U Hospital in Shreveport where is died.

Painter Dies From Flash-Fire Burns

TAMPA -- The painter who was severely burned at a water treatment facility Tuesday in East Lakeland died Wednesday morning at a Tampa hospital, police said.

James Morton Dierker of Lake Hamilton Boulevard in Winter Haven died about 7:10 a.m. at Tampa General Hospital, said Lakeland police Sgt. Mike Ivancevich.

Dierker, 47, suffered severe burns on 60 percent of his body in the flash fire at the Northside Water Treatment Facility, which is not in operation yet.

Dierker, a contract painter with Universal Painting in Lakeland, was working alone inside a 20-foot by 80-foot, partially underground tank when the fire took place.

Investigators suspect heat emitted from a halogen light in the tank may have sparked the fire. Fumes in the air likely provided the fuel.

Fatal Accident At Tulsa's Wastewater Treatment Plant Still Under Investigation

A 28-year-old husband and father of three was the victim of a toxic gas accident in Tulsa. Terry DeBuhr died Tuesday evening when he was overcome by toxic gas at the city of Tulsa’s wastewater treatment plant near 51st and Elwood.

DeBuhr worked at L and L Construction, which has done work for the city many times. And they still don't know how the accident happened that killed his employee, 28-year-old Terry DeBuhr.

DeBuhr and a fellow worker Chuck Nelson had been working for several hours inside a 12-foot deep chamber called a junction box, which was about half-filled with a water-sewage mix. The accident happened as they were wrapping up for the day, when one or perhaps both of the men went back in to retrieve a ladder.

Friends, Family Honor Police Officer Killed Sunday

CHICAGO -- Friends, family and fellow officers paid their respects to a Chicago police officer who was hit and killed Sunday by an alleged drunken driver.

Dozens attended a vigil for 30-year-old Michael Gordon Tuesday night. Flowers, crosses and stuffed animals were left near the accident scene at Sacramento and Jackson. The alleged drunken driver, who also died in the crash, was coming home from a baptism party, NBC5 reported.

I-70 construction accident claims worker

A construction worker was killed early Tuesday when he was pinned between a paving roller and a parked vehicle.

Robert John Lynn, 54, of Paradise Avenue, Fairhope, Washington Township, was pronounced dead at 1:25 a.m. at the scene of the accident by Westmoreland County Deputy Coroner Gerald Fritz.

According to state police at Belle Vernon, Lynch was directing Gary Miller, of Ellwood City, at 12:30 a.m. as Miller backed the roller along the westbound Smithton off ramp of Interstate 70 in South Huntingdon Township. The roller surged backward when Miller could not get it into neutral, pinning Lynch against a disabled vehicle parked on the berm.

Lynch fell to the pavement when the roller moved forward, but the roller then moved backward again, coming to rest against the parked vehicle.

Family of killed road worker urges drivers to be aware

Branson — The family of a Branson Public Works employee killed Tuesday by a teenage driver wants people to be more careful when they see roadside workers.

James Turner, who would have been 61 today, was using a weed trimmer about 10 feet from the curb of Gretna Road about 3 p.m. Tuesday. He was struck by a 1996 Honda Civic driven by Richard Toeneboehn, 18, of Kimberling City, according to a report from the Missouri Highway Patrol.

According to the report, Toeneboehn was driving west on Gretna just east of the Roark Creek bridge. He lost control of the car, struck a median and veered off, hitting Turner, the patrol said. An investigation is continuing.

Lightning kills construction worker

A construction worker was killed by a lightning strike Tuesday afternoon at a home under construction in the Pelican Preserve development of Fort Myers.

Fort Myers resident Alberto Angels was working at a construction site in the 10600 block of Triano Court when he was struck by lightning at about 2:20 p.m., said Kara Winton, a spokeswoman for the Fort Myers Police Department. Angels was pronounced dead at the scene. His age and address were not available late Tuesday from police.

Winton said another construction worker, Aniceto Perez, 25, of Fort Myers was also struck by lightning. Winton said Perez was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital by a private vehicle, but was not seriously injured.

Landis man killed

CLEVELAND -- A man died from electrical burns suffered in an accident at Myers Forest Products Inc. Tuesday afternoon.

Juan Janvario Sola, of 612 S. Chapel St., Landis, was pronounced dead at Rowan Regional Medical Center at 5:16 p.m. The accident in which he was electrocuted happened about 4:30 p.m.

Authorities did not know Sola's age Tuesday night.

According to Rowan County Sheriff's Maj. Tim Bost, Sola worked for Myers Forest Products. Bost said workers there were attempting to restart a machine that had stopped, and Sola went to a breaker box where he came in contact with a pair of 440-volt wires.

"He was not qualified to do what he attempted to do," Bost said. "He was trying to bring (the machine) back up. He didn't know what he was doing."

Worker dies after hair gets caught

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO -- A 32-year-old maintenance man died Sunday afternoon in one of the most unusual industrial accidents in years, police said.

The man, identified as Ace Feraro of Hayward, was scalped sometime between 7:30 a.m. and noon Sunday after his long hair was caught in the motor of a ventilation system atop a pharmaceutical company's building at 800 Gateway Boulevard.

Feraro, an employee of Elan Corporation, which has two buildings in the Oyster Point area, was changing bearings on the motor with the power off, said South San Francisco Police Sgt. Bill Carter. He turned the machine back on to check his work, bending too far over while the motor revved back to life.

Painter dies in fall from water tower

A man died Thursday after falling about 40 feet from a tower at the water treatment plant near Pompano Beach, officials said Friday.

John Wade, 56, of Fort Lauderdale, was preparing to paint the water tower at 1390 NE 51st Street just after 8 a.m., Broward Sheriff's Office spokesman Hugh Graf said. Wade lost his balance, fell through a skylight and landed on a floor, Broward Sheriff's Office fire-rescue division officials said.

Wade was conscious when paramedics arrived, but they took him to North Broward Medical Center in Pompano Beach, fire-rescue Capt. David Erdman said. Wade died there later Thursday.

Graf said the death was accidental. Broward County officials notified the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but OSHA and county officials said Broward's risk management department is investigating because OSHA does not typically investigate accidents involving public employees.

Crash kills safety man

INDIANAPOLIS - Before many drivers arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, there was a fatality on the grounds.

A veteran Safety Patrol member died from injuries suffered from a motor-scooter accident, according to track officials.

The deceased was not identified, pending notification of his family.

The accident occurred about 7:30 a.m. when the Safety Patrol member apparently lost control of a motor scooter and struck a concrete barrier in the infield. He was transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where he was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m.

A safety worker also died at Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks in February. That worker died as the result of being struck by an ARCA car during a caution.

Worker Dies in Fall From Scaffolding

Washington DC -- A 17-year-old construction worker died and a co-worker was critically injured yesterday after they fell 60 feet off a building under renovation in Northwest Washington, authorities said.

Investigators said that one worker grabbed the other as he fell. Both then tumbled to an alley. Rescue workers found them lying next to each other.

Elkin Galdames of Baltimore suffered massive injuries and died at the scene. Officials said that his co-worker, Freddy Madrid of Baltimore, was taken to Washington Hospital Center. Madrid's age was not released. Both men were from Honduras, a co-worker said.

Man killed after being sandwiched by trucks

MIDDLE TWP., PA -- A Waste Management employee was killed Friday morning when he was pinned between two garbage trucks while emptying a trash can, police said.

The worker died at the crash scene abut 8:15 a.m. on Route 9 in Rio Grande, police said. Authorities did not release the victim's name.

"It is a sad day for all of us," said Judy Archibald, a spokeswoman for the trash-hauling company's regional office in Morrisville, Pa.

Worker Crushed at Bluegrass Station

The Fayette County (KY) Coroner says 19-year-old Andrew Newton of Mt. Sterling lost control of a forklift, that flipped over and crushed him.

Newton was an employee of L3 Communications, a private contractor at the state run military post.

A Bluegrass Station spokesperson says everyone is shocked about losing an employee. Newton had worked there since February.

Armored Car's Bank Courier Slain in Md. Heist

Washington DC -- Hooded gunmen ambushed an armored car courier outside a bank in Hyattsville yesterday afternoon, fatally shooting the courier and grabbing a money bag before stealing a getaway car from a bystander, police and witnesses said.

The courier, a 28-year-old Maryland man, was shot three times shortly before 1 p.m. outside the front entrance of BB&T in the 3500 block of Hamilton Street. The bank is across the road from a busy grocery store and a nursery where about 30 children had just begun their afternoon nap.

Prince George's County police identified the slain guard as Jason L. Schwindler of Anne Arundel County. Police said he was shot twice in the torso and once in the face.

Tire explosion kills employee

Davenport, IA -- A 27-year-old worker was killed on the job Thursday after a combine tire he was filling with air exploded, Davenport police said.

The incident happened at 12:55 p.m. at his place of employment, Firstco Inc., 268 E. 90th St.

Investigators said that the man was filling a combine tire when it suddenly exploded. The blast caused the wheel rim to strike the man in the chest and face. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities had not released the man’s name late Thursday.

Shipyard accident claims man's life

NEWPORT NEWS, VA -- A 23-year-old apprentice at the Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard was electrocuted Wednesday afternoon as he worked outdoors on an air-conditioning unit.

Charles R. Short of Newport News was a 1999 graduate of Warwick High School, where he starred on the wrestling team and was a Daily Press All-star and Peninsula District Champion. He had worked at the shipyard since April of 2001. He is survived by his wife, a 2-year-old son, his parents and many other relatives in the area.

In the past week, there have been three fatal industrial accidents in Hampton Roads. Last Thursday, a 21-year-old worker from Texas died in an accident at Metro Machine, a ship-repair business in Norfolk, after being pinned between two metal lifts. He was working for the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., which was leasing space from Metro Machine. Then a worker from Chesapeake, John Wheat, died at Langley Air Force Base on Saturday when the walls of an excavation site caved in.

In 1997, three workers died after a pump room in which they were working filled with sewage and deadly gases. The yard was fined $6,300 after OSHA said the workers weren't trained well enough about the dangers of enclosed spaces.

In 1998, a worker was found dead near a shipyard pier. It was later determined that he drowned in an accident.

Iowan electrocuted in Missouri

Savannah, Iowa -- A utility worker from Davis County, Iowa is dead after being electrocuted by a high-voltage power line in northeast Missouri. The accident happened Wednesday evening just outside Livonia in Putnam County.

Thirty-one-year-old Steve Watson of Savannah was killed after coming into contact with a 72-hundred-volt electrical line. Watson was a lineman with Tri-County Electric Cooperative in Lancaster. The accident happened while Watson and a co-worker were responding to a power outage just off Route FF about two miles southwest of Livonia.

Hotel mum on worker's death

The death of a 39-year-old electrician who was injured at a substation that feeds the Logan International Airport Hilton Wednesday saddened airport workers and angered hotel employees who said they were denied grief counseling and ordered to keep silent about the tragedy.

Roger LeBlanc of Newton, N.H., was a married father of several children.

A hotel worker speaking on condition of anonymity said workers were not only stunned by the episode, but baffled when a hotel manager ordered a group to refrain from discussing the matter Thursday, he said. Asked about grief counseling, the manager said there would be none, the employee said.

A Hilton spokeswoman refused to discuss the matter - even the hotel manager's response. She added: "Obviously our prayers and condolences go out to (LeBlanc's) friends and family."

Janice Loux, head of the hotel workers' union, called the lack of grief counseling "outrageous." (More here.)

Salina road worker killed in Texas

Salina, KS -- A Salina road construction worker was killed Thursday morning in Texas when a paving machine rolled over him.

Tony L. Humphries, 24, was an employee of Ballou Construction, 1100 W. Grand, which is resurfacing a section of Interstate Highway 10 about 40 miles west of Houston.

Cheryl Kollatschny, Precinct 3 justice of the peace in Austin County, Texas, said Humphries was the front man on the paving crew and was under the paving machine, installing a part, when the machine was moved forward, over Humphries.

Clues sought in cause of painter's fatal fall

Westfield Police and Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are investigating the death of a worker who fell while painting the marquee of a movie theater.

Danny E. Potts, 45, Indianapolis, was painting the marquee of the Regal Cinema about 3 p.m. Tuesday when he fell about 40 feet, said the Westfield Police Department.

Man Falls From Trailer, Dies

Redding, CA -- An unidentified laborer from Mexico was killed Wednesday in what's being called an industrial accident.

The man, whose identity was not released pending notification of family, was killed after he fell and was apparently run over by a flatbed trailer being used to spray vegetation on private property near Platina and Gas Point roads in western Shasta County.

The man, who Deputy Coroner Wayne Booker said was in his late 20s, was a member of a work crew spraying vegetation on the property.

The flatbed trailer, which was equipped with a large tank, was being pulled by a truck on Bully Choop Road when it apparently hit a bump in the road, causing the man to fall off and land underneath the trailer, Booker said.

Investigation Into Meeting House Electrocution Continues

A federal safety agency and town police this week were continuing their investigations into a fatal industrial accident on July 26 at the Meeting House at 31 Main Street, which killed one painter by electrocution and seriously burned another painter, when an aluminum ladder that they were handling made contact with an 8,000-volt live power line on the south side of the building.

Ivan Patricio Tenecela-Velez, 25, of Port Chester, N.Y., died in the accident. Mr Tenecela-Velez was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital. Following an autopsy, the state medical examiner's office confirmed that Mr Tenecela-Velez died due to accidental electrocution.

Keller man is killed at construction site

A 30-year-old construction worker was killed in a forklift accident Tuesday at a south Fort Worth food distribution center, police said.

Dale Aaron Eckhardt of Keller was pronounced dead at 11:50 a.m. at Ben E. Keith, 7650 Will Rogers Blvd., according to the Tarrant County medical examiner.

"It appears to be an accident," homicide Detective C.D. Brannon said.

Eckhardt had just stepped off the forklift when the operator began repositioning the machine to pick up a spool of electrical cable, police said. Eckhardt was struck by the right rear tire.

Worker dies after being hit by beam

BOULDER - Another worker was killed in the Green River Basin natural gas patch, struck by a support beam at a drilling rig.

Leroy Fried, 49, of Riverton, died at a medical clinic in Pinedale after Monday's accident, according to the Sublette County Sheriff's Office.

The accident happened around 4 p.m. Monday about 5 miles south of Boulder. The rig was owned by Cyclone, and Fried was a Cyclone employee.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration planned to investigate.

Joshua D. Riedel, 23, of Worland, died at the scene of a rig accident on The Mesa south of Pinedale on July 23.

Crane rescue efforts called off

OPELOUSAS, LA — While family members refuse to give up hope, rescue efforts for Arthur Batiste, 46, of Breaux Bridge have been suspended.

Batiste has been missing since Tuesday, when a heavy crane fell into Bayou Courtableau at a bridge construction site on U.S. Route 190 between Krotz Springs and Port Barre.

Rescue divers from the Ville Platte and Lovonia fire departments worked until 1 a.m. Wednesday morning. They were back on the job at 6 a.m. but finally suspended operations at sunset.

“It’s too dangerous. It’s unsafe for them,” said Chief Deputy Laura Balthazar of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office.

About 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, a section of the bridge under construction at Bayou Courtableau collapsed, dropping a section of roadway and one of two heavy cranes into the bayou.

Three men were thrown into the bayou, two of whom were able to swim to safety. No sign of Batiste has been seen since.


A Bureau of Land Management worker has died in an ATV accident near "South Shale" Ridge. 62-year old Peter Larson died Monday, during a land health assessment in "Coon Hollow," 20 miles north of Grand Junction. The accident was in steep, rocky terrain. He was wearing a helmet and safety equipment. BLM staffers started looking for Larson when he failed to check in at the end of the day. He had been with the BLM for 3 years, and was previously a staffer with the Colorado National Monument. Larson was a retired teacher in District 51, where he taught for 29 years.

Emergency Call Sheds New Light On Worker's Death

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- A 911 tape shed new light Tuesday on the moments after a farm worker collapsed last week south of Arvin, KERO reported.

Asuncion Valdivia was pronounced dead at Kern Medical Center less than one hour after he began feeling dizzy and fainted in a vineyard. He had only been employed at Giumarra Vineyard for five days when he collapsed.

Within seconds of his collapse, a cell phone call was placed to 911 and an ambulance was requested. But, dispatchers were unable to get a location of the vineyard and an ambulance was never sent. More here.

Memorial this week for officer killed in line of duty

CLACKAMAS, ORE. - A public memorial service will be held for a Clark County sheriff's sergeant who was killed last week while responding to a call.

Sgt. Brad Crawford died late Friday night at a Portland hospital just a few hours after his patrol car was rammed by another vehicle.

State To Review Mining Practice

State mining officials say they will inspect all mines that use the retreat mining technique.

Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing director Paris Charles says the review will take place because of the death of 38-year-old Jimmy W. Anderson of Neon. Anderson died Monday after being crushed by rocks at a Reedy Coal Company's underground mine in Pine Top in Knott County.

He was the second miner killed in Kentucky this year during retreat mining.

In retreat mining, also called robbing pillars, miners create limited roof falls by chipping away at large blocks of coal that support the roof of a mine that has been exhausted.

Anderson's death is under investigation by the state mine safety office and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administraton.

In June, 25-year-old Edwin Pennington of Harlan County miner died in a roof fall at a Bell County Coal Corporation mine while he and his crew robbed pillars.

Former FPD officer killed in line of duty in Oregon

A former Flagstaff Police Department officer working as a sheriff's deputy in Clark County, Ore., died in the line of duty Friday.

According to reports from The Oregonian, Brad Crawford, 49, died when a suspect fleeing a standoff with police rammed into his parked patrol car.

Worker killed at Langley site cave-in

A Chesapeake construction worker died in an accident Saturday at Langley Air Force Base when the walls of an excavation site caved in, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

John Wheat, 45, was buried by sand when the collapse happened at 11:55 a.m., authorities said. (More here.)


A construction worker was killed Sunday evening when a piece of equipment fell on him at a site just north of Greensboro where his crew was building a bridge.

The Guilford County Sheriff's Department identified the victim as Moises Perez Villanueva, 29. He died at the scene.

Villanueva, a native of the Juanogato region of Mexico, lived on Merritt Drive, said sheriff's Sgt. C.L. Piner. Villanueva's home address was not available.