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'A gentle giant': Worker at garbage company killed when blade accidentally activates

Leroy Firestone, 58, was standing on a ladder performing maintenance on the hydraulics of a garbage truck when the incident occurred, the sheriff's office said.

SARASOTA, Fla. — A man was killed in an industrial accident while at work Tuesday, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Leroy Firestone, 58, was standing on a ladder performing maintenance on the hydraulics of a garbage truck at Waste Pro on 15th Street East when the hydraulic blade/door on the side of the truck activated, causing it to close on Firestone’s head, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Firestone died at the scene.

"I was blown away. I mean, this is something that nobody's ever prepared for," said Jeff Zint, Firestone's coworker. "He always had a smile on his face. He was a gentle giant."

Family and friends said Firestone was always happy. He was known on the 96K-Rock airwaves for years. The radio station is where he and his wife, Anne Whittemore Firestone, met. She said the news of her husband's death took her breath away. 

Deputies say detectives interviewed distraught co-workers and found nothing suspicious about the incident. It's believed there was some sort of miscommunication between Firestone and another employee while repairs were being made to the truck.

“At Waste Pro, we’re family. This is an extremely difficult time for all of us. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our Waste Pros," the garbage collection company said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with our employees and their families during this time of mourning and reflection. 

"We appreciate the responsiveness of the first responders and emergency teams and we will continue to cooperate with local authorities on this ongoing investigation.”

Currently, the incident is being labeled as an accidental death. An investigation is still ongoing.

    

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