19-Year-Old Worker Killed by Forklift Driven by his Father One of Several Fatal Accidents 

23 Nov, 2023 Liz Carey


New York, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – A 19-year-old worker killed by a forklift driven by his father, is one of several fatal industrial accidents this month.  

According to police reports, Ommatt Cruz, 19, was directing a mobile hydraulic lift driven by his father at a construction site in the East Village on Friday. As he was directing the lift through an intersection onto a flatbed truck, he was hit by the forklift and then run over by it.  

“There was a tragic accident that took away the life of one of our own,” Jessica Napoletano, a family friend said in a GoFundMe page for Cruz’ funeral expenses. The campaign has raised more than $26,000 as of Tuesday. “Ommatt Cruz just turned 19 three months ago. He was first and foremost a loving and adoring son to his parents. He was also a dedicated and loving brother.” 

Cruz suffered severe trauma to his body and was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident is under investigation, police said.  

On Friday, an employee in Eden, Wis. Was killed when a piece of stone saw fell on him. 

According to the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office, the 50-year-old employee of Eden Stone was working with other employees unloading a semitruck when a piece of steel from a new stone saw became unstable and tipped on its side trapping him. Officials said the employee’s co-workers were able to free the man within seconds, and staff members started CPR until first responders arrived.  

When emergency personnel arrived, the employee had no pulse and was not breathing. Officials said additional life-saving measures were not successful.  

The incident remains under investigation, but no foul play is suspected.  

And on Nov. 7, an Illinois John Deere worker died after a workplace accident.  

Anthony LeCleir, 55, of Davenport, Iowa died as a result of injuries he sustained in an accident at John Deere’s North American Parts Distribution Center in Milan, Illinois.  

Officials with the United Auto Workers Local 79, LeCleir had worked for Deere for 19 years. LeCleir was injured when a forklift caught a nearby vehicle.  

“He got crushed waist down by a forklift that was going around a pallet on the floor,” a co-worker media outlets. “He caught his cart and didn’t realize it, so he just kept going and it smashed him between the cart and TD [Taylor Dunn, a type of industrial vehicle]. It crushed his tailbone and pelvic bone in half.” 

After the accident, LeCleir spent weeks in the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City.  

LeCleir’s coworker told WSWS the plant had an overall disregard for safety, and pushed employees to hit productivity goals.  

“The biggest issue is safety,” the co-worker said. “The guy was a new employee on the forklift, so there was definitely a lack of training. The company has been told about issues, and all they want to do is pass it onto someone else and then it’s forgotten. It’s the biggest joke ever.” 

Prior to LeCleir’s accident, a Deere employee was killed in October 2021when he was struck by a car as he crossed the street near a picketing location. The worker was a striker and was killed crossing the street at the Deere & Company warehouse in Milan, Ill.  

Union members cancelled picketing shifts the day after the accidents.  

“It is a somber time to lose a member who made the ultimate sacrifice in reporting to picket for a better life for his family and coworkers," UAW President Ray Curry told the Des Moines Register in a statement. 

Seiver said he was told the union planned on shuttling members to the picket line in a van instead of asking them to walk. The park were the warehouse is located was not designed with pedestrians in mind, he said. 

"There aren’t sidewalks and things," he said at the time. "It's not really a pedestrian walkway. Nor is it signaled for pedestrian crossing." 

And in Birmingham, Ala., an employee was killed in an industrial accident at American Cast Iron Pipe Company, or Acipco.  

Officials said that Cederic Garner, 52, of Birmingham, was killed when he became entrapped in a production machine. The Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service and Birmingham Police Department were dispatched to the plant on Saturday, Nov. 11 for a call of an employee trapped in a machine. Crews then extricated the worker from the machine inside the plant and took him to the University of Alabama – Birmingham. Garner was pronounced dead at the hospital later that morning.  

Officials at Acipco provided employees at the plant with grief counselors and provided additional counseling to employees through their employee assistance program.  

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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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