A city employee in Buffalo, New York, was fatally struck while assisting in removing record snowfall on Wednesday, officials announced.
City workers had been working around the clock this week after the Buffalo area was hit with a storm that dumped over 6 feet of snow in some areas, before the tragedy occurred.
The worker was fatally struck at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday in the area of McKinley Parkway in South Buffalo by a high loader truck dropping a load of snow into a dump truck in reverse, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a news conference Wednesday.
The employee was not identified, pending family notification, but Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown described the victim as a “very experienced member of our city team, very experienced member of our city family, with decades on the job, field experience in situations like this.”
He said that the city is left “heartbroken” and that an investigation is underway by the Buffalo Police Department’s accident investigation unit into exactly what happened.
The mayor added that the driver who struck the victim “is in shock” and is cooperative in the investigation.
Brown said the vehicle involved in the accident was a third-party contractor that the city retained to help with the snow removal. Inspections of the vehicles involved will also be conducted by police.
Brown noted that 180 pieces of heavy equipment were active Wednesday hauling snow out of South Buffalo and city workers were working long shifts, many working on little sleep to clear out roads.
He announced a 48-hour suspension on snow removal operations starting Wednesday evening.
“We know that there is tremendous grief in the workforce right now. We know that people have been working 16-, 18-hour shifts, working on very little sleep, so at 5 p.m. this evening we will suspend further removal operations for 48 hours,” Brown said.