Death investigation underway at Leavenworth industrial park

OSHA has launched investigation

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is investigating the death of a man who died at the site of an industrial park being built in Leavenworth. The man died just a few weeks after construction began.

As the 41 Action News Investigators first reported in June, the controversial park is being built with sales tax money voters were told would fund three road projects.

People with Leavenworth County government connections are also profiting from the project.  

Through extended family, the 41 Action News Investigators have confirmed the man who died at the construction site July 20 was Rocky Breuer. He was 34 years old.

According to a Leavenworth County EMS spokesman, Breuer was working at the site when he complained of chest pains. The spokesman said when his co-workers asked him to go to lunch, he declined and stayed at the work site.

When his co-workers returned from lunch, they found Breuer unresponsive.

After CPR was performed on him, Breuer was rushed by ambulance to St. John Hospital in Leavenworth where he later died.

A heat advisory was issued for that day with a heat index of up to 110 degrees. OSHA guidelines say that heat index puts workers at high risk of heat-related illnesses.

The agency recommends four cups of water per hour for people working outside in those conditions.

Leavenworth Excavating and Equipment Company, or Lexeco, has the construction contract for the industrial park project.

Company owner Greg Kaaz issued a statement noting his company is conducting its own investigation.

The statement also says an autopsy has been performed, but results aren't available yet. The full statement reads: 

"On July 20, 2017 a 34 year old employee was found unresponsive in his personal vehicle after a lunch break.  CPR was immediately administered and emergency personnel (Leavenworth County EMS, City of Leavenworth Fire Department and City of Leavenworth Police Department) were notified.  After emergency personnel performed life saving measures on the project, he was transported to St. John’s Hospital in Leavenworth.  He was later pronounced deceased at the hospital.  Lexeco has launched a complete investigation to determine the cause of death.  An autopsy has been performed but the results have not been made available. Our thoughts and prayers go out the family, friends and co-workers at this difficult time."

Leavenworth County Commissioner Bob Holland said he was unable to get any firsthand information about Breuer's death.

Holland voted against the county funding for the project out of concern the proposal was set up for the vendors who ultimately were awarded the project. He said he's concerned.

"Something this big, I mean a life is a big thing," he said. "I think this should've been written up, what happened."

The cost for construction of the industrial park is roughly $10 million. The county is paying approximately $5 million for it.

The City of Leavenworth is picking up the rest of the cost and managing the project.

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