NAUGATUCK — Police identified the man who was killed Wednesday afternoon while clearing trees at Naugatuck High School as 32-year-old Luis Albaro Ortega.
Ortega, who police said lived in Naugatuck, was using a mini excavator in the upper parking lot off of Millville Avenue to remove a tree when he became pinned between the arm of the machine and the cab at about 1:25 p.m.
Ortega was removed from the excavator by fellow workers and was alive when first responders arrived on the scene. He was rushed to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Police and officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the circumstances that led up to the accident. No further details regarding the accident were available as of this post.
Ortega was working for the Naugatuck-based Valley Tree Landscaping Services, which was hired to remove trees from the hill that overlooks the athletic fields at the high school.
On Wednesday, OSHA did not have any past violations listed on its website for the company, nor did the company have any complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau, according to its website.
The landscaping company was hired by the Naugatuck High School building committee, which is overseeing a renovation at the high school, said Bob Neth, chairman of the committee. He said he has never known of any problems with the company.
“We know that the borough has contracted with them in the past,” he said, adding that they were the low bidder among two to remove dead or dying trees along the perimeter of the athletic complex. “This sounds like a horrific, freak accident. It’s just such a sad an unfortunate incident.”
Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said the district and the Board of Education expresses its sincere sympathy for a tragic situation.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” she said.
The incident happened just before school got out. Emergency workers and school officials made sure the scene was cleared for students to get out and for parents to pick up students without incident.
Counselors were on hand at the school Thursday in case anyone needed support services. The Millville lot was closed today.