Monday, February 6, 2017

A worker crushed and asphyxiated to death inside the bell tower at Geneva Commons shopping center in Geneva, IL

A preliminary autopsy report shows that a worker who was killed in a tower at the Geneva Commons shopping center Feb. 3 was suffocated by being pinned between the crane he was in and the tower itself, Kane County Coroner Rob Russell said.


Worker found in Geneva Commons bell tower was likely crushed to death, authorities say

A worker died Friday inside the bell tower at Geneva Commons shopping center in Geneva. (Linda Girardi / The Beacon-News)
Linda GirardiAurora Beacon-News

Authorities say a construction worker found dead inside a 35-foot-tall bell tower at the Geneva Commons shopping center in Geneva Friday was likely crushed to death.

"He was working in an aerial lift. We believe he was crushed between the aerial lift and part of the tower," said Scott Allen, spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "We are still trying to determine what happened. We do believe he was crushed."

Allen said they have begun an investigation with the company on the scene, Identity Services.

"We have interviewed witnesses, workers and the employer to determine what may have caused this tragic accident," Allen said.

Geneva first-responders were dispatched shortly before noon Friday on a report of an unresponsive person inside the tower.

The tower has been under renovation, and a contractor's bucket truck was being used to lift two workers inside the upper section of the structure. A third worker was at the base of the tower.

Geneva police Chief Eric Passarelli on the scene said the investigation was in its early stages. He said they do not believe the cause of death was suspicious in nature.

"Our hearts go out to the family," the police chief said.

All of the stores at Geneva Commons remained open. However, Geneva policed cordoned off the central section of the mall around the bell tower.

Geneva fire Chief Michael Antenore said the technical rescue team was called to the scene. The rescue team raised a ladder to reach the victim and then carried a gurney to the top of the tower to bring the body down. It was about three hours before the body was lowered to the ground level.

The Kane County coroner's office on the scene assisted the family in identifying the body. OSHA was on the scene as well.

Antenore said the man who died was approximately 30 to 35 years old.