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City Issues Update on Today’s Incident that Injured Two City Public Works Employees

Post Date:03/28/2019 2:00 PM

One worker is still being treated for serious injuries; a second employee was treated for a head injury and released from the hospital

Mayor Mike Purzycki today joined with Public Works Commissioner Kelly Williams and Fire Chief Mike Donohue in offering prayers and best wishes to a City employee who is undergoing treatment for a serious chest injury, and to a second employee who was also injured this morning as the workers were collecting trash on Vandever Avenue, just a block off of North Market Street.

The Mayor said the Fire Department’s preliminary investigation indicates that a pressurized oxygen tank cylinder was placed in the trash, which was then loaded into the sanitation collection vehicle shortly before 8 a.m. this morning. The Mayor said as the workers were compacting the trash, as they do every few minutes along their route, the tank exploded sending shrapnel flying from the rear of the truck. 

A 40-year old sanitation chucker sustained a serious chest wound from shrapnel and is being treated at Christiana Hospital in Stanton after being flown there by helicopter. He is in stable condition. His 42-year old colleague, also a sanitation chucker, hit his head when he was blown onto a nearby sidewalk by the force of the explosion. He was treated at Wilmington Hospital and released.

“We extend our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured employees and their families,” said Mayor Purzycki. “Kelly, Mike and I also want to thank the less seriously injured worker, who provided immediate medical attention to his more seriously injured colleague as did the crew’s driver. Both of them are to be commended for aiding their colleague in those critical moments until the Fire Department’s emergency personnel arrived.” The City’s Human Resources Department will offer support services for employees who may have been affected by today’s incident. 

Once today‘s incident scene on Vandever Avenue was cleared by Fire Department investigators, the City sanitation truck was taken to another location where its contents were emptied in order to determine what caused the explosion. A damaged oxygen tank, as depicted in the photo accompanying this news release, was found.

The Mayor today asked citizens to be very careful about placing items in the trash that could be considered dangerous. He said the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA.com) sponsors a number of recycling events throughout the year at which items such as oxygen canisters can be dropped off. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) offers information at this link about items that can and cannot be placed in trash bins.

garbage truck explosion (2)

     Sanitation Supervisor Jason Leary looks at a damaged oxygen cylinder recovered from the City                       sanitation vehicle that was collecting trash on Vandever Avenue this morning when two employees               were injured.

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