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DuPage County Deputy Killed in Airport Accident

Casey Woodruff

undefinedWhen we leave our houses for work, we don’t expect to be involved in a fatal accident. In particular, most of us assume that a freak workplace accident won’t happen while we’re on the job. However, according to a recent article in the Glen Ellyn Patch, a 52-year-old luggage handler, Michael Yates, at Chicago’s Midway Airport died in “a freakish accident involving two luggage vehicles that collided at Midway Airport.” Accidents can happen anywhere, and they occur without warning. The recent death at Midway, while a freak occurrence, isn’t an anomaly.

Luggage Handling Accident Proves Deadly

The workplace accident victim, Yates, had been a DuPage County deputy for 28 years. He worked as a detective, as well as a street officer and a SWAT team sniper. His wife, Beth Mitchell Yates, described his job at Midway as “his retirement gig.”

His obituary also described some of his assignments during his time at the sheriff’s office, such as serving as a guard for former President George H.W. Bush, serving on a special crew that traveled to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and serving as a SWAT team member with the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Task Force after September 11th.

Yates had just entered retirement in June of 2014, and he began work at Midway, where he handled luggage as a Southwest Airlines ramp agent, in November of 2014. According to ABC 7 reports, Yates’s luggage vehicle collided with another vehicle, causing Yates to be ejected. He was rushed to Christ Hospital, but he later died as a result of his injuries. The accident happened just before midnight. The accident is currently under investigation.

Fatal Workplace Injuries in Illinois

Several of the news outlets reporting on Yates’s accidental death described the luggage vehicle collision as a “freak” or “freakish” accident, suggesting that it’s not the type of crash that any of us would anticipate. But are some workplace accidents more predictable—and thus more preventable—than others?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of workplace fatalities reported in 2013 showed a significant rise from the previous year. In 2013 alone, preliminary data showed a total of 172 fatal work injuries in the state, which increased by 26 fatalities from the previous year. What were the causes of most of these accidental deaths at various workplaces? The BLS reports the following as the most common causes of these fatalities:

  • Transportation accidents (63 fatalities);
  • Contact with objects and equipment (35 fatalities);
  • Violence caused by other persons or animals (32 fatalities); and
  • Other causes (21 fatalities).

How do these numbers compare nationally? In 2013, 4,405 fatal workplace injuries were reported to the BLS. That number showed a decline from the previous year in which 4,628 fatal workplace injuries were recorded.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Work Injury Attorney today.

If you or someone you love sustained serious or fatal injuries at work, it’s important to discuss your case with a dedicated Chicago personal injury lawyer. You may be able to seek financial compensation. Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced advocate at Woodruff Johnson & Evans. We have years of experience handling workplace injury claims and can discuss your options with you.

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