A 60-year-old Long Beach man was killed Thursday morning, April 27th, when he got trapped beneath a steamroller that he was operating on a remote area on Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) property in Westchester, Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) officials said.
The man, identified by the county coroner as Thomas Cadwallader, had been driving the asphalt compactor at about 8:25 a.m. along Pershing Drive, between Imperial Highway and World Way West, at the far west end of LAX, when the vehicle “suddenly overturned,” LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey said.
The vehicle fell on top of Cadwallader and trapped him against the ground beneath the safety cage that enclosed the operator’s control station, Humphrey said.
Two companies of Los Angeles city firefighters and one fire department rescue ambulance quickly arrived at the scene, but Cadwallader had sustained traumatic head injuries, Humphrey said.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Airport Police were also called to the scene.
Firefighters used heavy-lift air cushions to raise the steamroller and remove Cadwallader, who was pronounced dead at the scene, Humphrey said. No one else was injured.
Cadwallader, an employee of Excel Paving in Long Beach, had been working with a contract construction crew to build a temporary access for an airport lighting and fencing improvement project at the airport, Humphrey said.
The project was at a “very remote” area of the airport that is not visible from the airport terminals.
Airport officials said that because the accident occurred at a remote and inaccessible location of the airport, there was no effect on airport operations.
The accident “certainly had an emotional impact” on the construction crew that worked with Cadwallader on the project, Humphrey said.
“It’s a very sad and tragic occurrence,” he said.
City of Los Angeles crisis response team volunteers provided on-site emotional support and guidance to Cadwallader’s coworkers.
Officials from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) program are investigating the incident as a work-site fatality and will try to determine whether Cadwallader was properly restrained during the accident, Humphrey said.