OSHA investigating after local workplace death

Shawn Gray

BRISTOL — The Department of Labor Office of Workplace Safety is continuing its investigation into the death of a Goshen man who died at Bravo Trailers in Bristol a week ago Friday.

“We have never experienced this type of incident,” Nick Cray, vice president of operations at Bravo Trailers, said. “All the managers, the owner, nobody has experienced this type of incident.”

Shawn Gray, 43, was killed June 7 due to impact trauma when a piece of machinery being moved by a forklift fell on him that morning, according to the county coroner's office. 

Cray on Friday said the company and its employees are still in shock.

“When you see something dramatic happen to a co-worker, people process death very differently. We found employees that didn’t even know Shawn really affected deeply. We’re a pretty close kind of company. He was a great employee, a good welder and a good personality to work with.”

The company brought in grief counselors for its employees Monday morning and many took advantage of them.

“I think they were able to provide some comfort to many of our employees and help them process some of our feelings,” he said, “When his wife, Angela, visited us Monday morning unplanned, she also was able to spend a little time with the grief counselor.”

Cray said the company’s reaction to the incident is to re-evaluate its training and safety protocol.

“We spend a lot of time and effort keeping our employees safe and I know it’s pretty hollow at this point, but that’s why it’s called an accident,” he said. “All the training and all the safety precautions, bad things can still happen.”

Breadwinner for a large blended family, Gray and several other co-workers had volunteered to come in Friday morning to work on a few maintenance projects for overtime pay.

He had been working at Bravo Trailers just a few months.

“They were very capable of doing this work, which is why they were in on overtime assigned to that,” Cray said.

Their task for the day was to construct a welding gig, or table, to be used at the plant. After it was finished, they were moving it with a forklift when Gray was fatally injured.

“I was one of several trained first responders on the scene shortly after the accident,” Cray said. “We were able to make sure the welding gig was secured, knowing that the emergency technicians were going to need to give Shawn first aid so we wanted to make sure the table was secured.”

Gray was already unconscious when he arrived, and paramedics arrived soon after.

“Their intention was to get him stable enough to transport. We contacted Shawn’s next of kin and we were able to speak with his mother and advised her that he was injured. At that point, we knew he would be transferred to Elkhart.”

But he wasn’t. Later, his wife would recall sitting in the hospital waiting room, until she was given the news that Gray had passed away.

“We’re devastated,” Angela Gray said. “He touched so many people’s lives.”

A blended family of eight, Gray’s family will now wait up to eight weeks for the autopsy report, and even longer for the Indiana Department of Labor and Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration to finish their investigation.

On Monday, an investigator with IOSHA came to the plant and Cray said they cooperated with the inspector.

“We’re anxious to have the final report so we have some closure and get OSHA’s perspective on where we can continue to improve,” Cray said.

Stephanie McFarland, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Labor, said the analysis can take 60 days.

Bravo Trailers is not known to have been cited by IOSHA for safety violations in the past, nor are there complaints or incidents on record demanding IOSHA reviews in the past.

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