Police have released the identity of the victim of a fatal Swansea lawn-mowing accident.
Conner LaPointe, 18, of Pike Saw Mill Road in New Athens, was operating a commercial mower Wednesday near a pond near the 1800 block of Carrington Way when his mower rolled into a pond and trapped him beneath it.
“The preliminary investigation into this incident appears to be a tragic accident where a young man lost his life,” Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said.
The preliminary investigation into this incident appears to be a tragic accident where a young man lost his life. Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson
It was unclear how long the man was under water. According to police reports, the victim was discovered after a co-worker called police to report him missing. The mower could be seen upside-down at the edge of the water, but it was not until rescue workers arrived that it was discovered the operator was trapped beneath the machine.
He couldn’t be seen beneath the surface of the murky water.
“A Swansea firefighter went into the water immediately after arriving on scene and was able to determine that the young man was trapped beneath it,” Johnson said.
Several firefighters jumped into the water to roll the mower over and free the victim just as an ambulance arrived. Paramedics tried to resuscitate the victim without success.
The mower was so heavy it took a tow truck to get it out of the water.
LaPointe was working by himself with another employee from his company, Freeburg-based Wieland Outdoor Services, also mowing in the area.
When the second employee couldn’t find the victim where he was supposed to be working, he called police at about 3:30 p.m.
Police said they have not been able to determine how long the victim was in the water. But they believe it was between one and four hours.
St. Clair County Deputry Coroner Danny Haskenhoff pronounced the victim dead at the scene.
Johnson said, “This is a very sad situation and our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the young man’s family and friends.”
This is the second fatal mowing incident in the metro-east in the last two months. On July 29, 74-year-old Duane Sudholt died when his mower overturned on an embankment in Shiloh. He was severely burned by leaking gas ignited by the hot engine.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, fatal mowing accidents are rare. But more than 17,000 people are injured each year while cutting grass.
It is unclear if the mower had a roll bar. But OSHA reports that the vast majority of mower-related accidents are rollover-related and that a roll bar could be the difference between life and death. Mowers who use machines without a roll bar are urged to contact the manufacturer to see if there is a kit available to retrofit their mower with proper safety equipment.
Police asked that anyone who witnessed the accident or the events leading up to it contact them at 618-233-8114.