Updated: 11/18/10 3:37 p.m.
LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. (STMW) – A “well respected” hospital worker died after being pinned by 1,400 pounds of drywall Tuesday night while he worked on the campus of the north suburban Libertyville hospital.
A man — identified by the Lake County Coroner’s office as Rajmund Zalewa — was in the construction area of the hospital, 801 S. Milwaukee Ave, when seven sheets of lead-lined drywall fell on him for an unknown reason, according to Occupational Health and Safety Administration spokesman Diane Turek.
“It was very unfortunate,’’ according to Turek, who said each sheet of drywall weighs 200 pounds.
Zalewa, 26, of Prospect Heights, was pronounced dead at 11:41 p.m. Tuesday at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Lake County Deputy Coroner Mike Reid said.
Zalewa was found about 11 p.m., pinned by a heavy piece of drywall in a storage area, Reid said. It was not clear when the incident actually happened, but Zalewa was on duty when it happened, officials said.
“We are mourning the loss of a well-respected employee and our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the family. Our team is continuing an investigation into this tragedy,” said hospital Vincent Pierri, who confirmed the accident happened Tuesday night.
Zalewa worked in Environmental Services, or the housekeeping department, for about six years.
Preliminary autopsy results indicate Zalewa died from suffocation due to the weight of the drywall and did not suffer any blunt trauma injuries, Reid said. A final autopsy report is forthcoming.
Pierri said lead-lined drywall is usually used with medical imaging, or x-rays.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)