A Buffalo city worker died Wednesday after four days of clearing record snow still left the area devastated.
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An unidentified worker was struck by a high-lift truck dumping a load of snow onto a dump truck while traveling in the opposite direction at 11:15 a.m. on McKinley Parkway in South Buffalo. Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said In a press conference.
The activist, who had “decades” of field experience, died at the scene.
Mayor Byron Brown said, “This is a man who is well known to all of us who has served in city government.” “Someone with experience who has given a lot to serve the city over those decades.”
The worker’s identity is being withheld pending notification of the family.
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The man driving the high loader was a third-party contractor hired by the city to help remove the nearly 8 feet of snow that was dumped on November 19.
Brown said the driver is “in shock” but is cooperating fully with the city’s investigation.
The worker’s death marks the fifth since the storm hit the city. The Buffalo News reported. Three people have died of cardiac events after shoveling snow and a 74-year-old man who crashed his car during a storm on Friday was found dead on Tuesday.
In light of the tragic death, Buffalo is suspending snow removal efforts through Friday morning.
“We know there is tremendous grief in the workforce right now. We know people are working 16-, 18-hour shifts, working on very little sleep,” Brown said.
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City officials did not say whether sleep deprivation could be linked to the crash, but are looking into “all aspects of the investigation.”
“Obviously in this kind of snowstorm where snowfall started on Thursday and did not end till Sunday, people are working round the clock. People are working longer hours,” Brown said.
The mayor said that on Wednesday, 180 heavy equipment were pulling snow from South Buffalo. At the time of the worker’s death, police were performing traffic control to protect motorists, pedestrians and workers from large equipment.
The case is still under investigation and has been referred to the District Attorney’s Office. Grief counseling is being offered to city workers affected by the tragedy.