A truck driver delivering debris from the Sonoma County fire cleanup died Friday evening after he became pinned under his truck tire at the Central Landfill outside Petaluma.
The 60-year-old man was a subcontractor for AshBritt Inc., according to multiple sources. His name was not released Saturday night.
The incident happened outside the dump area after the worker had made one of the final deliveries of the day and was using controls at the back of his truck to hook up a trailer around 5:30 p.m., said Mike Weihman, battalion chief with Rancho Adobe Fire. The man was the only person around the dump site at the time.
To attach a trailer, an operator uses the electric starter motor to move the truck into position with the engine off and the truck in reverse, Weihman said.
It appears the diesel engine turned on and the truck rolled backward, striking the worker as he stood at the rear of the vehicle, Weihman said. The truck came to rest with the man under the left rear tire.
“Even when it’s done right, it’s a somewhat dangerous procedure,” Weihman said.
It took 10 to 20 minutes for anyone to realize what had happened, Weihman said. When public safety crews arrived around 6 p.m., the man was already dead. CHP and Cal OSHA are investigating the incident at the landfill, which is operated by Republic Services.
“We are saddened by the news that an individual participating in the fire relief cleanup efforts did not make it home last night,” Republic Services spokeswoman Jennifer Eldridge said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this time.”
AshBritt has a fire cleanup contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It instructed AshBritt to suspend cleanup operations Saturday for a “safety stand down” so contractors could review protocol and safety procedures for four hours, said Nancy Allen, spokeswoman for the Army Corps. Representatives for Florida-based AshBritt were not available for comment.
The landfill was open but quiet Saturday. For the first time in weeks, there were no trucks dumping fire debris at the facility. Pete Pouwels, division manager for Republic Services at the landfill, called the incident “a big deal.”
“I’m very proud of our safety record here,” Pouwels said. “We take this very seriously.”
You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or email@example.com. On Twitter @nrahaim.