Falling smokestack crushes pickup, killing man

March 15, 2006|By RICHARD IRWIN | RICHARD IRWIN,SUN REPORTER

An employee of a South Baltimore chemical firm was killed yesterday evening, sitting in his parked pickup truck, when a large portion of a nearby smokestack collapsed and fell onto the vehicle, authorities said.

Officials were attempting to determine whether wind caused the collapse.

The victim - a man employed by W.R. Grace Chemical Co. in the 5500 block of Chemical Road in Curtis Bay - was seated in the vehicle parked on company property when about 100 feet of a 200-foot-high metal smokestack lined with either plaster or concrete broke off, said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a spokesman for the city Fire Department.

Cartwright said most of the falling stack cleared a small building but struck the vehicle nearby, crushing it. "He apparently never knew the smokestack was falling towards him," Cartwright said of the victim, whose name was withheld pending notification of family members.

A spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said the wind's velocity was clocked at 23 mph to 33 mph at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport about the time of the collapse.

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