Sunday, May 22, 2005

Weekly Toll

Battle Creek police detective shot, killed

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Two Battle Creek police detectives were shot, one of them fatally, while conducting an investigation Monday, the department said. The slain officer was identified as Detective Lavern Brann, 44, a 20-year veteran of the department. Police were searching for a 21-year-old man driving a car he stole moments after the shootings. The shooting happened about 4:15 p.m. on the city's south side. Brann and Detective Greg Huggett had gone to an apartment complex to interview two women as part of their investigation of a taxi driver's slaying last week, police said in a statement. Brann and Huggett exchanged gunshots with the suspect, who was leaving the building, the statement said. Brann was taken to Battle Creek Health System, where doctors pronounced him dead. Huggett was treated and released for a leg injury.


Napa, CA- An autopsy will be performed today on the body of a young man killed in a road construction accident in Napa Saturday. The Napa County coroner's office has identified the worker as 20-year-old Christopher Weeks of Escalon, Calif. According to sheriff's investigators, Weeks suffered major upper body injuries when a rubber-wheeled roller ran over him. He was working on a road resurfacing project at Foothill Boulevard and Elm Street. His coworkers tried to revive him, but Weeks was pronounced dead later at Queen of the Valley Hospital. Weeks worked for Modesto-based Western State Surfacing, according to the sheriff's office. His death will be investigated by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), as well as Napa police and the city's public works department.

N.Y. window washer dies in fall

New York, NY, May. 6 (UPI) -- A 68-year-old window washer fell nine stories to his death when his safety harness snapped outside a New York City building. Independent contractor Joel Gillum had been hired by a building tenant to clean windows, The New York Times reported Friday. He was pronounced dead at a Manhattan hospital not long after the 10:15 a.m. Thursday incident. Witnesses said Gillum had just gone out a ninth-story window and leaned back to begin cleaning windows when the safety harness snapped.

Maintenance Worker Killed In Scrubber

CENTRALIA, Wash. -- A maintenance worker was killed by falling material inside the scrubber at the power plant in Centralia. Authorities say he was a man in his 30's from the Longview-Kelso area working for a subcontractor. The Lewis County sheriff's office says he was hit in the head yesterday by a piece of material about ten-feet-by-five-feet that came off the wall of the scrubber. The man had been blasting the material from the wall. The scrubbers were installed three years ago at the coal-fired plant to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide. The state Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the death

Crush of dirt led to death in ditch

PINELLAS PARK, FL- A trench cave-in broke a plumber's ribs and pelvis, leading to cardiac arrest during a rescue effort, an examiner says. The plumber killed in a trench accident Thursday died from blunt trauma caused by the heavy, fast-moving wall of dirt that collapsed on him, the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office said Friday. The force broke Charles "Mike" Morrison's ribs and fractured his pelvis, setting the stage for the cardiac arrest he suffered as workers tried to free him from the 15-foot-deep trench behind Intrepid Powerboats Inc. on Belcher Road.

Bouncer Shot, Killed Outside Nye's In Minneapolis

Minneapolis, MN- A bouncer was shot to death outside Nye's Polonaise Room in Minneapolis after he ejected a patron, authorities said. William Walsh III, 43, died at around 3:45 a.m. at Hennepin County Medical Center. The bouncer, known to Nye's staff and patrons as "Big Billy," was a divorced father of three. Police said the shooting suspect returned to the bar early Friday after being ejected, shot the bouncer in the back and went into the Mississippi River.

Work related accident kills South Hall man

Gainesville,GA- Bobby Eugene Blackwell Jr., 29, Flowery Branch, died Tuesday from a work-related accident, a spokesman for Utility Line Construction in Barrow County confirmed Friday. Dennis Stapola verified that Blackwell was an employee with the Barrow County electric company, but declined to give further comment on Blackwell's death. "Right now we're concerned with the well-being of the family," he said. "It's a difficult time for them."

Two workers shot to death

FREDERICKSBURG, Pa. - Two employees were shot to death Thursday afternoon in an apparent murder-suicide at a chicken processing plant, a company spokesman said. The shooting victims at the BC Natural Chicken plant were a married couple, said Ken Trantowski, a spokesman for the Golden, Colo.-based company. No other employee was harmed, he said. Trantowski described the couple as estranged, but said he did not know whether they were divorced. He would not release their names and referred other questions to state police, who would not release any further details. The plant, which employs about 300 workers, was closed for the rest of the day, but was expected to reopen Friday morning, Trantowski said.

Construction worker dies in W. Sac

Woodland, CA- A man was impaled at a construction site in West Sacramento Thursday. Andrew L. Sanchez, 62, of Citrus Heights, died of a penetrating injury to the chest and abdomen, according to Yolo County Deputy Director Robert LaBrash. "We're not sure why he fell," LaBrash said. Sanchez fell about five feet and was impaled on a rebar pole at a construction site on Industrial Boulevard at about 1:45 p.m. Thursday. "He died immediately," LaBrash said. Coroners do not suspect drugs or alcohol played a role in the Sanchez's death. He will, however, undergo a toxicology and drug screen, LaBrash added.

Petersburg co-op elevator worker dies

Petersubrg, TX- Officials are investigating a fatality at the Petersburg Grain Co-op after a Thursday afternoon accident. An employee identified as Alex Ramirez, 36, apparently suffocated when he was buried by grain about 5:20 p.m. Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Karen Davis requested an autopsy. No other details were available. A person at the business declined to give information and officers who worked the accident were unavailable.

Nexans worker dies on the job

Elm City, NC- An employee at an Elm City electronics company died Wednesday when she was electrocuted on the job. Maj. J.H. Farmer of the Wilson County Sheriff's Office said an employee at Nexans Berk-Tek Electronic Cables died Wednesday while at work. Nexans is located on Parker Street in Elm City. The woman, whose name has not been released, was transported to Wilson Medical Center where she died, Farmer said. "It appears to be an industrial accident at this time, but Lt. D.W. Bailey and the Sheriff's Office Detective Division are investigating," Farmer said.

Worker Crushed To Death By Forklift

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- A Simpsonville man was killed after a forklift rolled over onto him and crushed him to death, according to the Spartanburg County Coroner's Office. Stephen Stacy Davis, 41, died a short time later at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. Davis, a forklift operator, was working at the Central Transport trucking company in Duncan when the accident happened about 3 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Colorado Man Dies In Fall From New Hampshire Tower

NEW BOSTON, N.H. -- A 55-year-old Colorado man was killed Monday evening after plunging more than 100 feet from an Air Force tracking station tower in New Hampshire. Investigators said Frank Gantt, of Peyton, Colo., was performing routine maintenance on the tower for Honeywell Corp., at about 6 p.m. "Some other workers that were with him," State Police Sgt. Bill Jepson said. "He was just leaning back against his harness taking a break while he was secured with his rope. At some point, the harness let go, and as a result, he plunged down." Gantt died on the way to a hospital.

Employee Dies After Small Explosion At Lakeside Mall

NEW ORLEANS, LA -- A jewelry store employee who was burned in a May 5 explosion at Lakeside Mall has died, according to the Jefferson Parish fire investigators. Firefighters said the employee, Steven Michael Muller, 30, of Violet, was working with a jewelry-cleaning machine inside Bailey Banks & Biddle when it exploded. Muller received serious burns and was taken to East Jefferson Memorial Hospital. He died Sunday at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. Firefighters will give further details at a Wednesday news conference.

D.C. Mayor Honors Volunteer Officer Killed in Georgetown

WASHINGTON, DC - Mayor Tony Williams is offering condolences to the family of Joseph Pozell. The reserve police officer died Tuesday after being taken off life support. Police say Pozell's death while directing traffic at Wisconsin Avenue and M Street in Georgetown was an accident and that the 19-year-old woman behind the wheel had a green light. Williams says Pozell's loss goes on the books as a line of duty death. The mayor has ordered flags on District government buildings flown at half staff to honor the volunteer officer. Williams says he and other city officials will attend Pozell's funeral, which is expected to be held Saturday at Washington National Cathedral.

Construction worker dies after fall

SANFORD, FL -- A 50-year-old construction worker was killed Wednesday when he fell about 15 feet from a rafter of a home under construction west of Sanford. The man was a subcontractor working on a home on Brackenhurst Place in the Carisbrooke subdivision off Markham Road, Seminole County Sheriff's Office spokesman Steve Olson said. The accident occurred about 1:50 p.m., and the man was pronounced dead a short time later at Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also is looking into the accident. County investigators had not released the worker's name because relatives had not been contacted, Olson said

AmerenIP worker dies while repairing storm damage Thursday morning

DECATUR, IL - An AmerenIP electric emergency troubleman was electrocuted about 6:27 a.m. Thursday as he worked in the 1500 block of Riedel Avenue, just southeast of the Decatur-Macon County Fairground. James L. Stevens of Mount Zion had been employed with Illinois Power Co. and then AmerenIP for 25 years, said Shirley Swarthout, an AmerenIP spokeswo, man. "It's been many years since we had a fatality," Swarthout said. "It affects all of us. Our condolences go to his family and the people who worked with him." Exactly what occurred to cause Stevens' death may never be determined, said Michael Day, Macon County coroner. AmerenIP officials are investigating the death, but no one had been found as of Thursday afternoon who witnessed the entire event, he said. Stevens had a reputation as a consummate electrical worker, not a person to cut corners or violate safety rules, Day said. Stevens was in the raised bucket of a power company truck working on the lines near a transformer at the time of his death, he said.

Two killed in college tour bus crash

CASTLE CREEK, N.Y. A third construction worker died today after a bus carrying a Missouri college group crashed along a highway work zone near Binghamton. Eleven other people were injured Friday morning when the bus crashed into construction vehicles on Interstate 81, just north of Binghamton. Authorities say the bus may have been going too fast through the construction zone. Thirty-year-old Jason Pessoni of Cininnatus was killed when he was hit by the bus. Thirty-two-year-old Jonathan Randall was pronounced dead later at a nearby hospital. Thirty-nine-year-old Wayne Bonsell of Binghamton died Saturday morning, according to officials at Wilson Memorial Regional Medical Center. The bus driver was in critical condition today. The tour bus was carrying about three dozen students from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. The students were members of a choral group on tour in New York.

OSHA probes worker's death-Questions raised on permit, reporting

UTICA, NY -- The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration is investigating a West Utica accident in which a heavy-equipment machine tumbled three stories out of a building -- with its operator still inside. OSHA also is questioning whether it was properly notified of the fatal May 12 accident at the former Mele Manufacturing site along Erie Street. Steve Rzepka, a 28-year-old from Whitesboro, died Wednesday of blunt-force injuries he suffered at the site. His funeral is this morning.

Witnesses say fall killed worker-Allentown man was working on balcony at Lehigh Riverport site in Bethlehem.

BETHLEHEM, PA -- Federal investigators released no new information Friday about the accidental death of a construction worker at the Lehigh Riverport site, but witness accounts included in a city police report indicate the victim fell from a ladder. Marivan Khouri, a 40-year-old Allentown man, was working on an enclosed, third-floor balcony at 11 W. Second St. Wednesday when the ladder he stood on "kicked out" from under him, the report says.

Wadena officer dies of heart attack

Wadena, Minn- A 47-year-old police officer in Wadena, Minn., responding to a domestic disturbance call collapsed and later died of an apparent heart attack. Peter Resch collapsed after he and another officer arrested a 19-year-old man Thursday night. The man briefly struggled and was handcuffed and searched. As officers took him out of an apartment, Resch collapsed in the hall, police said. Officers and emergency medical personnel administered CPR and other life support measures, but Resch was pronounced dead at Tri-County Hospital, police said.

Truck accident kills Farmer City man

Bloomington, IL -- A Farmer City man died in a two-truck accident Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 55 about five miles south of the Illinois River. J.E. Shaw, 46, died in the accident that happened about 12:50 p.m. on northbound Interstate 55 near mile marker 242, state police said. His obituary is on page A10 Shaw's semitrailer truck rear-ended another semi driven by Joseph W. Brown, 59, of Harmon.

Construction Worker Dies After Dump Truck Backs Over Him

Rose City, TX- Construction worker from Houston was killed Thursday morning after a dump truck backed over him. The accident occurred on the east bound lanes of Interstate 10 at mile marker 857 near Rose City. The construction site was not open to the public. KBTV-4 News is not releasing the identity of the victim until his family can be notified.

A young gunman killed a 19-year-old female cashier

NEW ORLEANS, LA — A young gunman killed a 19-year-old female cashier in a small family run supermarket on Saturday in broad daylight, police said. Van Le Heim was shot in the head at about 1:28 p.m. and died shortly afterward at the Medical Center of Louisiana. The suspect, who was described as being in his late teens or early 20s, fled on foot and police were looking for him on Saturday. State owes Hornets more money because of poor attendance.

Kentucky officer dies in crash - Two riders airlifted in other mishaps

Lexington, KY- A Lexington, Ky., police officer was killed and Lifestar airlifted two other motorcyclists to University of Tennessee Medical Center in three separate accidents Saturday. None of the accidents were on the heavily patrolled Dragon section of Calderwood Highway. At 7 p.m. Officer Dwayne Pidcoe, 45, of Lexington, Ky., was riding his motorcycle east on Tenn. 72 in Monroe County toward U.S. 129. Tennessee Highway Patrolman Brent Cagle said that as Pidcoe approached a sharp right-hand curve, he drove through the curve and wound up in the left-hand lane. Pidcoe collided head-on with a Ford F150 truck.

Mill worker killed by falling debris

Munster, IN -- William Maffitt enjoyed fishing with his sons and never shied away from work that was dirty, hazardous or hard.

While working on just such a job Friday, Maffitt, 45, was killed when a chunk of debris fell on him from above, slamming his head against the 30-foot high hopper he was working in.

"He was just an excellent worker, which is what probably got him killed in the first place," his mother, Toni Maffitt, said Saturday.

Maffitt, 45, who lived in Gary's Miller neighborhood, died of blunt force trauma to his head and neck, which was broken by the force of the blow, according to Porter County Deputy Coroner Martin Moeller.

He then fell into the fine powder he had been vacuuming out of the hopper, which had a "quicksand effect" and swallowed him up, Moeller said.

It took hours for Portage firefighters to extract the body. They finally had to cut a hole in the side of the hopper to pull him out.

It was the 12th fatal accident at an area steel plant in the past five years. Four of those occurred last year.

Maffitt was working for subcontractor Eagle Service Corp., of Valparaiso, along with at least two others to clean out what is known as the "bag-house" facility at the mill, according to Beta Steel President David Pryzbylski.


New York, NY -- A PAKISTANI IMMIGRANT was bludgeoned to death overnight inside a Manhattan gas station, police said yesterday.

Waqar Ahmed, 50, a night watchman at the W. 51st St.

Mobil station, was found at 6 a.m. lying face-down on a bloody mattress inside the station, cops and relatives said.

"They killed an innocent," said Ahmed's distraught nephew, Kami Ali, 25. "He was just trying to support his family, his wife back home. And someone breaks in and hits him in the head and shoulder. There is no reason."


Portland, OR -- A taxi driver died Wednesday after his cab crashed into the back of a YMCA building on Southwest Barbur Boulevard in Portland. The Broadway Cab driver had suffered a heart-related medical episode and lost control, said Sgt. Brian Schmautz, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman.

Raye Miles, Broadway Cab president and general manager, identified the driver as Terry McNulty, 52, of Troutdale..