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When working on the road, crew is 'family'

Mary Lisa Boose • Jun 25, 2010 at 2:03 PM

It's the phone call nobody ever wants to get.

Ken Bleile was on the wrong side of that call Thursday as information came in from the Canton area about the tragic death of Kevin Meyer.

Meyer, 26, of Grove City and formerly of Bellevue, was electrocuted in a road construction accident while working for Lake Erie Construction.

Bleile, safety director for LEC, said there was an empty feeling around the office Monday morning. As tough as it was, work and life must go on.

"At this point, essentially we have 140 people who count on this work for their livelihood," he said. "We haven't much choice. Some days it is tougher but even though some of us don't feel like working we have to just keep going."

Safety is something Bleile deals with on a daily basis. It's not an easy job when you put that many people out on the roads.

"There are so many variables when you are working along the highway," he said, adding he can't remember another time when a situation like this occurred.

Meyer was removing guardrail posts on U.S. 30 about 2:46 p.m. Thursday when a boom truck touched a live power line, electrocuting him, Ohio state Highway Patrol troopers said.

Smith Ambulance Service, transported Meyer to Aultman Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:25 p.m.

He was working on Kevin Wolfe's crew. Wolfe is a veteran of the company with at least 25 years of service, Bleile said. It is especially tough on the people he worked with every day.

"Most of the time they live together during the week," he said. "It's just like a family."

Working with guardrails is something these guys do every day so they were well aware of the dangers. But it only takes a second.

"The only thing we can do is make sure the guys understand and are as careful as possible," Bleile said. "We have to make sure it isn't any worse than the variables that are already there."

Bleile said the investigation continues.

"The state patrol probably has completed its investigation," he said. "We haven't seen it yet. We are cooperating and working with OSHA (Occupational, Safety and Health Administration). I am working on that today and probably will for the next couple of days. We want to cooperate with them and make sure we do everything we can to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Bleile said LEC has about 140 employees and 18 crews are working around the state.

Safety, Bleile said, is something his employees can never get too much of.

"We do an annual safety meeting and everybody is trained in a safety training passport (online training by OSHA)," he said. "We do an annual meeting and go over things that have happened throughout the year. We try to update them with letters and newsletters.

"We do have a 15-member employee/management safety committee that meets quarterly to make recommendations on safety rules and improvements and we find nothing better than to have the men and women in the field who are doing the work to review and recommend safety improvements."

Calling hours will be from 2 to 8 p.m. today at Foos and Foos Funeral Service in Bellevue. A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Immaculate Church in Bellevue for the 2002 Bellevue High School graduate and former basketball standout with the Redmen.

"He was a great kid," former coach Lyle Falknor said. "He came from a good family."

Joe Centers is the Reflector managing editor. He can be reached via e-mail at jcenters@norwalkreflector.com.

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