Friday, August 11, 2017

58-year-old sign worker Robert Tanner with Accent Neon and Sign Company died after his torso was pinned between the bucket and the metal overhang of the sign in Palm Harbor, Florida

Worker killed while pinned by sign in Palm Harbor identified

By WFLA Web Staff

Updated: August 9, 2017, 5:49 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has identified the man who was killed in a work-related accident Wednesday in Palm Harbor.

The incident happened outside the Glory Days Grill on US Highway 19 North around 11 a.m.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, 58-year-old Robert Tanner and 50-year-old Charles Walker, both employed by Accent Neon and Sign Company, were working on an electronic billboard when Tanner went up in a hydraulic bucket truck.

Tanner was about 20 feet in the air when he leaned over the control panel, trying to reach an electrical access panel on the sign, and activated a switch to raise the bucket higher.

Deputies say Tanner’s torso was then pinned between the bucket and the metal overhang of the sign.

Due to the presser, Tanner couldn’t release the switch. Walker also tried to reverse the boom using a control panel on the side of the truck, but couldn’t override the panel.

Paramedics from Palm Harbor Fire Rescue worked to free Tanner for more than 20 minutes, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Later in the day, the owner of Accent Neon and Sign Company was seen testing the bucket truck that the employee was in when the incident happened.

Right now, the sheriff’s office is calling this an accidental death.

Sheriff’s deputies are on the scene along with OSHA and a medical examiner.


PALM HARBOR, FL -— A man was killed Wednesday morning when he was pinned between a truck bucket and a billboard sign.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Robert Tanner, 58, was in the bucket about 11 a.m. working on a sign in front of Glory Days Grill at 34200 U.S. 19 N. He and a coworker, 50-year-old Charles Walker, were working for Tarpon Springs-based Accent Neon and Sign.

Tanner, of Tarpon Springs, leaned over the panel that controls the bucket's height trying to reach an electrical access panel on the sign. He accidentally hit a switch that caused the bucket to rise, pinning the man's torso between it and the sign, deputies said.

Walker, of New Port Richey, unsuccessfully tried to free the man then called 911. It took Palm Harbor Fire Rescue paramedics 20 minutes to release the man because he was pressing on the control panel, causing the truck's hydraulics to apply more and more pressure to his torso.

When paramedics got him down, he was pronounced dead. The Sheriff's Office said the death appears to be accidental.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office responded to the scene to investigate further.

Subcontractor Amir Kaman, 49, was crushed to death by 15-ton slab of concrete at a garage construction site in Austin, Texas that is run by Cadence McShane Construction

AUSTIN, TEXAS (KXAN) — A man who died after a 15-ton slab of concrete fell on him at a southeast Austin construction site has been identified.

Initial information indicates, Amir Kaman, 49, was delivering a different kind of concrete slab for a garage project when a concrete wall being installed fell over onto the cab of a truck. Two people with knowledge of the site and construction safety say that caused a chain reaction that flipped the slabs that were on the truck’s flatbed onto Kaman.

When emergency crews arrived at the construction site at Wickersham Lane and Cromwell Circle on Tuesday morning, they found Kaman pinned under the slab. While they tried to extract him, Kaman died at the scene.

Alvin Sassenhagen said he heard a crash, then he heard a crane operator yelling to people on the ground to get out of the way. “By the time I looked up,” he said, the flatbed load of concrete “was already on its side.”

The parking garage being constructed will serve a large apartment complex Cadence McShane Construction was contracted to build.

A spokesman for a public relations firm the construction company hired said the victim was a subcontractor on the project.

An Alliance Mechanical utility van slammed into a Casella Waste Systems garbage truck that had stopped on a St. Albans road Friday morning, killing one of the Casella employees (Patrick Wedge) and injuring another

A utility van owned by Alliance Mechanical of Vermont slammed into a Casella Waste Systems garbage truck that had stopped on a St. Albans road Friday morning, killing one of the Casella employees and injuring another, police said.

The driver of the van suffered serious injuries.

Casella employees Patrick Wedge and Brian Record were loading garbage into the back of their collection truck on Fairfield Hill Road at the time, according to a statement from St. Albans Police Chief Gary Taylor.

Wedge, of St. Albans, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. He did not hear or see the van coming and was pinned between the truck and the van, police said. Wedge's body has been transported to a state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

Record, of Colchester, jumped out of the way and suffered minor injuries, according to the police statement.

The driver of the utility van, identified by police as Ben Smyth, was extricated from his vehicle and is in serious condition at the Northwestern Medical Center.

St. Albans police were called to the crash at about 6:29 a.m. Friday.

Smyth was wearing a seat belt during the crash, and police do not believe alcohol was a contributing factor.

Fairfield Hill Road, also known as Vermont 36, was closed Friday morning between Vermont 104 and Rugg Road. It was expected to reopen in early afternoon.

Anyone with information on the crash may call 524-2166 or submit an anonymous tip through the department's website at

Joe Fusco, vice president at Casella Waste Systems, said the company is very concerned about employee safety, especially when workers are stopped on the side of the road just inches or feet from moving traffic.

"Generally, this is the most dangerous part of the job," Fusco said. He encouraged drivers to slow down as they pass parked waste vehicles.

The crash follows a series of deadly crashes this week. Seven people were killed on Vermont roads in a 16-hour period from Sunday night to Monday afternoon, prompting Vermont State Police to increase the visibility of their enforcement efforts. Law enforcement officials pleaded with drivers to take responsibility for safety on the roads.

Here is some info on the poor fellow, Patrick Wedge:

  • casella waste and recycling
  • Went to Mount Mansfield Unified School District 17
  • Lives in Saint Albans, Vermont
  • Married to Meredith Wedge
  • From Saint Albans, Vermont


1 worker dead in 2-car crash with garbage truck

One man is dead after a van crashed into a garbage truck in St. Albans.

  Updated: 2:38 PM EDT Aug 11, 2017


One man is dead after a van crashed into a garbage truck in St. Albans.

Police responded to the area of Route 36 and Fairfield Hill around 6:30 a.m. Friday, where a utility van struck the rear of a Casella Garbage truck.

A garbage man, identified as Patrick Wedge, was pronounced dead at the scene after he was pinned between the van and garbage truck.

The driver of the van, Ben Smyth, was trapped in his vehicle and taken to Northwestern Medical Center to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

He was listed in serious condition.

The other man working on the garbage truck, Brian Record, of Colchester, jumped out of the way of the crash.

He was also taken to Northwestern Medical Center where he was treated for minor injuries.Route 36 was closed between Rugg Road and Route 104 (Fisher Pond Road) for about five hours.

Here is some info on the guys who killed Patrick Wedge

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WARNING: 50.8 percent of national residential fires in 2015 were caused by cooking.


In the last five years, there have been 150 building fires in Holland.

If there’s a fire in a residential building in Holland, there’s a good chance that fire started in the kitchen.

Of all the building fires in the city, cooking fires are the leading cause of fire in Holland.

“Everybody has a kitchen,” said Holland Fire Department Capt. Chris Tinney. “It doesn’t matter where you live, cooking fires are the leading factors of fire in the city of Holland. That’s huge.”

Tinney said not only are kitchen fires the most frequent type of fire in Holland, they’re also the most preventable type.

Holland fires by area of origin, 2012-17

Kitchen - 35

Other (trash, parking lot, exits, etc.) - 14

Bedroom - 13

Wall/ceiling/floor - 11

Manufacturing/workroom/sales area - 16

Garage/carport - 12

Porch/roof/exterior - 15

Heating room - 10

Attic/crawlspace - four

Storage - four

Bathroom - three

Hallway/stairway - two

Laundry room - three

Living room - two

Dining room - two

Office - one

Undetermined - one

Multiple areas- two

In the last five years, there has been 150 building fires in Holland. Of those, 106 fires were residential and 44 were commercial. Within that data, there were 35 kitchen fires, 32 of which happened in residential buildings. Twenty-five percent of fires in single-family homes are kitchen fires in Holland, and 46 percent of fire in multifamily homes or apartments start in the kitchen. Overall, 30.2 percent of all residential fires in Holland are cooking fires.

Holland is not alone in this trend. Based off data from the U.S. Fire Administration, 50.8 percent of national residential fires in 2015 were caused by cooking.

Within Holland, there are hot spots where fires are more likely to occur, mostly due to population density. This area is north of 24th Street and west of Fairbanks Avenue. Looking at the number of fires in the last five years in Holland, Tinney said building fires are relatively infrequent. That doesn’t mean it’s not a problem, though.

“Fire may not be a huge problem for residents, but when it does happen, it’s serious,” he said. “We see a lot of cooking area fires, and the reason I zoom in on these is because it’s the most preventable. This is staring at us.”

Knowing kitchen fires are the most probable type of fire in the city isn’t enough, though. The Holland Fire Department has started to identify educational opportunities to prevent major loss of property and encourage residents to have a fire plan for their family.

Most kitchen fires are accidental. They can begin with a faulty appliance, an unattended stove or too-hot cooking oil, among other things. One of the reasons kitchen fires can get out of hand so quickly is because the common sense fire suppression tactics don’t work on a kitchen fire. Putting water on a cooking oil fire will only make the fire worse, spreading the flames faster. Similarly, using a portable fire extinguisher is not advised. When the pressurized fire extinguisher moves toward the fire, the pressure may make hot oils or sauce come back toward the person putting out the kitchen fire, causing serious injury.

“If we can’t prevent kitchen fires, then what are people doing when they see it?” Tinney said. “Putting water on a cooking fire is the worst thing to do. Putting the lid on it and turning the heat off is what you need to do.”

If the flames are small and containable, throwing a nonflammable powder like salt on the fire is also recommended. But if the flames are growing, the best thing to do is get out.

“Understand that the fire may be too big to deal with yourself,” Tinney said. “If you can’t do it, leave the area and take everyone with you. Don’t delay. If the fire is already reaching the cabinets, it’s too late. Don’t waste precious time trying to put the fire out yourself.”

Some cooking fires are preventable. Leaving a heat source unattended or cooking while intoxicated is never advised. Using too much oil or too high a heat setting can be avoided. Keeping plastic containers and food packaging off the stove also may prevent a fire emergency.

Things like electrical or equipment failures, however, aren’t always avoidable. When a fire does start in the kitchen, having a working smoke alarm nearby to notify residents is crucial for minimizing damage or loss of life.

Of the 35 kitchen fires in Holland since 2012, 31 of those locations had smoke detectors present. Four of the locations had an unknown smoke detector presence. A present smoke detector doesn’t mean it’s working, though. Tinney said he’s walked into homes where fires happened and saw the smoke detector sitting on a counter.

“Present doesn’t mean working,” Tinney said. “We’ve got good compliance with smoke detectors as far as having them, but maintenance is where it’s not great.”

This can occasionally be complicated in rental units. The responsibility of maintaining a smoke detector should be shared between the landlord and the tenant, Tinney said.

Smoke detectors need to be replaced every 10 years, and the batteries need to be changed twice a year. When residents reset their clocks for daylight saving time, they should also replace their smoke detector batteries.

Following cooking fires, the next most likely place for a fire to originate in Holland buildings is a manufacturing or commercial workspace fire. Third on the list is the porch, roof or exterior of a building. No matter where a fire starts, discussing a plan of what to do with family members can help with a quick and orderly evacuation.

“The bigger picture is to have an escape plan and have everyone in that residence know what that plan is,” Tinney said. “Have two ways out and a meeting place. Identify how you’re going to call 911 and never go back in. If you’re worried about your pets, most of the time they’ll follow you out. They’re smarter than we are.”

Tinney also advises shutting the door of the room where the fire is contained to minimize its available oxygen.

With all fires, particularly kitchen fires, human activity can be a strong contributing factor. Because of that, Tinney and his team are continuing to educate the community about those risks.

“Fire, to me, is a behavioral issue,” he said. “It’s human, most fires are accidental. We identify what these issues are and now we’re calling attention to it. We know these are accidental fires and we know the area of origin.

“There are human factors here. We’re not saying you did anything wrong, but it’s preventable.”


HOLLAND, Mich. — A woman whose boyfriend sparked a 2012 apartment fire using a blowtorch on a squirrel is on the hook for $2 million in damages to the Holland Township complex, the Court of Appeals says.

Today’s ruling reverses a lower court decision that held Barbara Pellows responsible for only $15,400 in damages caused by the Oct. 10 blaze that consumed 32 units at Clearview Apartments.

The woman’s boyfriend had been using a blowtorch to remove fur from the squirrel on a wooden deck. Owners of the complex say cooking a squirrel on the deck violated her rental agreement.

Even though her boyfriend caused the fire, Pellows is still liable under a lease agreement for what justices described as a “fur-burning escapade.’’

“Because defendant signed the lease agreement, she is presumed to have read and understood its contents,’’ the three-judge panel wrote.

Dozens of people at Clearview Apartments near 120th Avenue and Riley Street in Holland Township lost everything in the fire. Insurance carrier Travelers Indemnity Company shelled out more than $2 million to repair damage.

The boyfriend left the torch on the deck and went into the apartment. When he returned 15 minutes later, he discovered the fire. “His attempts to extinguish the fire proved unsuccessful,’’ justices noted in the unpublished decision released Wednesday.

The lease agreement held her responsible for fire damage caused by negligent or intentional activity. Pellows argued that she was not liable for damages under the Michigan Truth in Renting Act and the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

The Court of Appeals says it is a breach-of-contract lawsuit. Her contention that provisions of the lease agreement “were never explained to her’’ don’t hold water. The law does not require that the landlord “read and explain’’ the lease agreement she signed, justices wrote.

Its five-page decision directs the Ottawa County Circuit Court judge who handled the case to rule in the insurance company’s favor and “determine the appropriate amount of damages’’ owed, which the insurance company says tops $2 million.

The deadly fire in Brooklyn that killed 81-year-old Gertrude Duncan was sparked by an overloaded power strip.


Investigators say a deadly fire in Brooklyn was sparked by an overloaded power strip.

81-year-old Gertrude Duncan was killed when flames tore through the front of her apartment building on Pacific Street in Crown Heights Thursday.

Duncan, who was asleep in the first floor front bedroom when the fire broke out, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her daughter Barbara lived in the back bedroom. She and neighbors tried to rescue the trapped grandmother, but they were not able to get her out.

One tenant suffered second degree burns to her hands, but she is expected to survive.


Thursday, August 10, 2017 05:42PM
CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- As flames tore through a front of a Crown Heights apartment building

An elderly woman has died after flames ripped through an apartment building in Brooklyn.

"It hurts. My mother's gone," said Barbara Wilson, the victim's daughter.

Having to verbalize the harsh and painful loss was just too much for Barbara who lost her sweet mother early Thursday morning.

"Lord have mercy. She burned up," Barbara said.

1:30 a.m. Thursday, flames broke out in the Crown Heights brownstone on the 1300 block of Pacific Street.

One elderly woman asleep in the first floor front bedroom never woke up.

81-year-old Gertrude Duncan was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her daughter Barbara lived in the back bedroom. She and neighbors tried to move heaven and earth to rescue the trapped mother, but the flames would not allow such mercy.

"I tried just to go in the backyard, break the door down and see if my neighbors, if they are okay," said Mher Janian, a witness.

"I try to fight him back for go inside. 'Mister, I want to help my mother, man. I want help her,'" Barbara said.

One tenant suffered second degree burns to her hands, but she is expected to survive. Others escaped with barely their clothes.

"I grabbed my pants and I ran down stairs, then I put my pants out, so everything left inside there," said Preston Godfrey, a victim.

Ms. Duncan, from Jamaica, she had seven children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren and a grateful heart.

"Every day she said to me, 'Thank you, my daughter. Thank you. Thank you.' Every time I did anything for her. She said, 'Thank you for dinner. Thank you for breakfast. Thank you for lunch.' She always thank me," Barbara said.

"It's just horrible, sad, it's just so upsetting, she's a just a sweet elderly lady and I just feel so bad that this happened to her," said Suzanne Mattiello, a witness. "She used to sit outside, you would see her every time, and say, 'Hi mama,' she said, 'It's good to see you,' she's so sweet."


CROWN HEIGHTS — An elderly woman was found dead and another suffered burned hands after an electrical fire tore through a Pacific Street building early Thursday morning, police said.

Firefighters found Gertrude Duncan, 81, on the first floor of 1347 Pacific St., near New York Avenue, when they brought the two-hour blaze under control about 2:30 a.m. after it erupted on the first floor, according to FDNY and NYPD officials.

"My son said, 'There's smoke! There's smoke!' I woke up and tried to get her out. Her door was closed because she liked her privacy. My son grabbed me. Smoke was inside," said Duncan's daughter Barbara Wilson, 65.

Wilson was bereft over her mother's sudden death.

"It hurts. It hurts. It hurts. Oh God, it hurts," Wilson said.

The other woman injured in the fire, a 49 year old, was treated at New York-Presbyterian/Weil Cornell Medical Center, where she was listed in serious but stable condition, officials said. Her relationship to Duncan wasn't immediately clear.

Duncan was a beloved mother of seven who valued an orderly home, her daughter said.

"She was the greatest mother, the perfect mother," Wilson said.

"She loved cleaning. She loved straightening her place and making it look good. She folded clothes better than me," her daughter added.

Duncan, who immigrated to Brooklyn from Jamaica 30 years ago and has seven children, was a beloved fixture in the neighborhood.

"She was loving everyone, and everyone loved her. She always liked to talk to people and sit outside," Wilson said.

"Not everybody on the block gets along, but she made everyone get along," her daughter added.

Other relatives agreed.

"She was a sweet, kind, giving lady. She helped me grow up. She was a very caring person. She not only took care of her children, but she took care of me as well. It's tough right now," said her nephew Michael Duncan, 53.

"She's gonna be dearly missed on this block. It's just so sad. We all know we have to pass away, but not like this," he added.

The FDNY announced on Thursday afternoon that the cause of the fire was accidental, tweeting that an overloaded power strip caused the flames.

The Medical Examiner will determine how Duncan died, i.e. whether she died from smoke inhalation or burned alive to death.

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — A 56-year-old man was killed in the second fatal Crown Heights fire this week.

Rupert Smith was found unconscious, unresponsive and burned inside a Kingston Avenue apartment late Thursday night, officials said. Four other people were injured in the blaze. They were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The fire was started by someone smoking, fire marshals later determined.

Another fire about a mile away killed a woman early Thursday. Flames broke out around 1:15 a.m. at a home on Pacific Street near New York Avenue.

That fire was deemed accidental electrical and was sparked by an overloaded power strip, FDNY fire marshals said.

An 81-year-old woman was killed in that blaze, officials said. She was later identified by her family as Gertrude Duncan.

Neighbors said everyone on the block affectionately knew Duncan as “mom” or “grandma.”

A second woman suffered burns to her hands in that fire.