NEW TOWN — A construction worker died on the job Monday afternoon near New Town after a gravel pile gave way and swept him under a piece of machinery, police said.
William Makela, 65, of Michigan was standing on the ladder of the front end loader he’d been operating when the top of a large pile of sandy gravel slid down, knocked him off the vehicle and buried him underneath it, Mountrail County Sheriff Ken Halvorson said.
Makela worked for Pinky’s Aggregates Inc., a Rolette-based company that has an office in New Town. An employee of the business said that he’d worked there for “a couple of months” before his death.
The accident happened around 2:30 p.m. at a work site on S&L Road, where workers were loading semi-trucks with gravel at a pit about four and a half miles south of New Town, Halvorson said.
Authorities have received at least one complaint about Pinky’s Aggregates, records show. A report was filed with OSHA in 2009 relating to road construction or trenching activity, said Scott Overson, assistant area director for the Bismarck OSHA office.
The incident, which is categorized as a mine accident because it was at a sand and gravel pit, is being investigated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Amy Louviere, the spokeswoman for the organization, said.
Workers were able to partially dig Makela out before emergency responders arrived and pulled him out from under the loader. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The body was sent to the state forensic examiner’s office for an autopsy.