Iowa man died after being hit by salvage yard excavator

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Kevin Cummings, 57, was said to have been behind the machine when he was hit by the operator.

PATON, Iowa – According to his brother, Kevin Cummings was a man of many hobbies – a fisherman, a hunter, a racing fan. But after his death on April 8, his brother is left with some tough questions.

“Why did it happen when it shouldn’t have happened?” said Keith Cummings.

According to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a call shortly before 11 a.m. on April 8 to Pickett Salvage in Paton after receiving reports that a man had been hit by an excavator. Kevin Cummings reportedly walked around or behind the machine while it was in operation. This operator did not see Cummings turning and backing the vehicle at the same time. He died on the spot as a result of his injuries.

Wendell Wood, excavator safety trainer and owner of MMJ Services, said being behind an excavator is one of the worst places a person can be.

“The rule of thumb has always been within the visual sight of the operator, so he can see you. Never walk behind him,” Wood said.

Working around heavy machinery can be extremely dangerous. according to OSHA, more than 5,300 workers died on the job in 2019. Of these, 1,061 deaths were in construction, representing nearly one in five death at work that year.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office has not confirmed whether or not charges are being considered in Cummings’ death, although the investigation is ongoing. According to Wood, there could be legal problems if it turns out that the employer did not provide sufficient safety training.

“Generally speaking, unless there is wanton, lamentable and willful disregard for human life, it does not rise to the level of a crime. It will be considered a misdemeanor,” a- he declared.

In the meantime, the Boone community remembers Cummings, cementing his legacy in one of his favorite places.

“I know in Boone someone told me they put his name on the back of their cars last Saturday night when the races started. So there are people who remember him from this way,” Keith said.

Pickett Salvage representatives spoke to Local 5 on April 11; they declined to be interviewed for this story.

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