ARLINGTON HEIGHTS (CBS) — He was killed delivering troops and supplies in Kuwait, but he wasn’t a soldier.

John Bruce was a United Airlines employee. His family says he lost his life because of a careless mistake someone else made, CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.

Patty Bruce, his wife, and their sons deal with their grief the best they can.

But there’s one thing they can’t accept: not knowing exactly how John, 64, died.

“I didn’t even really get to say goodbye,” Patty Bruce said.

The family is filing a lawsuit to try and get those answers 14 months after the 23-year ramp service man for United was critically injured on a Kuwaiti airfield after helping transport U.S. troops.

Patty Bruce says all she really knows is that her husband of 29 years was on a mobile belt loader when he fell, hit his head and never regained consciousness. Their attorney says it wasn’t an accident and that the employee running the belt loader was negligent.

“This employee wasn’t doing his job, he wasn’t paying attention.  He was careless,” Tim Cavanagh said.

That employee worked for CAV International, a private company contracted by the Defense Department to manage airfield operations. CAV is named in the suit.

“CAV International has not responded with one piece of information, has not even acknowledged their employee’s conduct in this case, has not even acknowledged John Bruce’s death,” Cavanagh said.

Until they get some answers, the Bruces cope by remembering the family patriarch. They’ve even kept his voice on their answering machine.

They know he’s gone.  They just want to be treated with some respect.

“My family deserves it,” Patty Bruce said.

Besides answers, she says her family also wants to make sure such an accident doesn’t happen again, especially because there were no protective measures in place when her husband fell.

CAV International did not return a call seeking comment. Boeing and NMC/Wollard Inc., which made the belt loader, are also named in the suit.

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