A public works worker was killed Wednesday while helping with ongoing snow removal efforts in Buffalo, New York, in an accident that local officials called “heartbreaking” as they confirmed the death is under investigation.
The employee, who has not been identified, had worked for the city for decades, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference, where he was joined by Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. According to a preliminary investigation, around 11:15 a.m., the employee was fatally struck by a high-lift snow plow that struck him while in reverse, according to Gramaglia.
The worker was dead on the spot, the police commissioner said.
“We are devastated. We are hurting now having suffered this loss,” Brown said at the news conference, where he called the accident a “terrible tragedy” and described the worker as “a very experienced member of our city’s team” and “A very experienced member of family of our city.”
Authorities are conducting an accident investigation to determine exactly what happened leading up to the employee’s death, which will include checking the vehicles involved, the police commissioner said. In Buffalo, ongoing snow removal operations have called for help from nearly 200 “pieces of heavy equipment” to clear snow in south Buffalo and move it elsewhere, Gramaglia explained.
“These are always difficult scenes and it’s made worse when it’s a friend and when it’s a person who is known to those on the scene and investigating the accident as well as co-workers,” Gramaglia said. “So our hearts go out to the family. Our hearts go out to the workers out here who work so hard for days. It’s a terrible loss.”
The citywide efforts followed a snowstorm last week that New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called “historic” as it likelyin various cities and towns east of Lakes Erie and Ontario. Parts of Buffalo were hit pretty hard by the storm, with the National Weather Service recording 77 inches in Orchard Park, just south of Buffalo, on Saturday. The storm was at least the worst since November 2014, when some areas south of the city were hit by snow that caused significant damage to homes and buildings.