City worker injured in backhoe incident

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — A worker with the city of Rockingham’s Department of Public Works suffered injury early Friday morning when he was trapped between a bucket and backhoe on a tractor.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com FirstHealth EMS personnel address the needs of a city of Rockingham employee who was trapped in between the bucket and stick on a backhoe.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
FirstHealth EMS personnel address the needs of a city of Rockingham employee who was trapped in between the bucket and stick on a backhoe.

The four-person work crew was laying bricks just before 8:30 a.m. as part of the streetscape project in a three-block area. As work progressed in the 200 block of East Washington Street in front of the Prelipp and Scott law office, Gene Gardner reached into the bucket for a brick and somehow became trapped. Gardner, in his 20s with approximately three years’ experience working for the city, yelled.

The backhoe operator let the bucket down and turned off the machine.

Personnel with the Rockingham Fire Department, FirstHealth EMS and the Rockingham Police Department responded. Assistant City Manager Sabrina McDonald also responded to the incident. By the time first-responders arrived, Gardner was free of the machine and was sitting up curbside on the street.

“I couldn’t do nothin’,” an obviously distraught backhoe operator told police. “He was stuck. I’m sorry.”

Once Gardner had been helped onto a stretcher and taken to the back of an ambulance for further evaluation, DPW’s Richard Haugen stepped into the seat of the tractor. Haugen spun the seat around and noted the seat didn’t inadvertently bump the controls. He worked the stick and bucket back and forth and noted no obvious deficiencies.

Gardner was transported by ambulance to FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital and from there airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

By 9:30 a.m., City Manager Monty Crump and other city staff already had visited with the worker at the local hospital.

Crump, standing with McDonald and Police Chief Billy Kelly at the accident scene, said he couldn’t recall the last time the city had a work-related injury.

“It’s been a while,” Crump said.

The focus Friday morning was on Gardner’s health and welfare.

“My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” Crump said.

The city has a  safety program in place to prevent incidents like this. The program is executed through a variety of safety briefings and demonstrations and general workplace safety awareness, among other things.

“Unfortunately, we still have accidents,” Crump said.

Crump said the backhoe was immediately taken out of service and will be inspected by a manufacturer’s representative.

The incident remains under investigation by the Rockingham Police Department and, Crump said, the internal investigation.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Rockingham Police Department investigators review what happened and how it might have occurred.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Rockingham Police Department investigators review what happened and how it might have occurred.

 

 

 

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety, Rockingham

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