The circumstances surrounding the incident still under both federal and commonwealth investigation.
On October 7, 2020, Thomas Steele, 61, from Milan, Illinois, died in a tragic construction accident operating heavy machinery. The machinery was a bull-dozier and the operator’s death, and the causes underlying the cause or causes, are still matters under investigation according to information made known to the Times-Voice.
The deceased was Mr. Thomas Steele from Milan, Illinois. Mr. Steele, from all accounts, was a very experienced and successful member of his industry having before worked in a variety of going concerns in construction.
Mr. Steele grew up on a farm with 4 brothers and 5 sisters where he developed a strong work ethic and love for farm animals and farming in general. Mr. Steele graduated from high school in 1977 and served as a member of the student senate for his graduating class (1977).
Mr. Steele began installing guard rails in 1997 which lead to his opening a business named T. Steele Construction. He would come to own and operate numerous businesses over the course of a successful career. In addition to T. Steele Construction, he was a partner in B.S. Crane and QC Blasting and Coating.
Mr. Steele was described to the newspaper as a boss who cared deeply for his employees and treated everyone like family. Mr. Steele was described by friends and co-workers alike as a work-a-holic who made every business in which he was involved successful.
According to a release disseminated by the Sheriff’s department on the date of the incident, emergency personnel were called to the Southfork community on October 7, 2020. Upon arrival, they found Mr. Steele dead at the scene.
According to numerous witnesses, Mr. Steele, operating a bull-dozer and working along side his employees, was under contract to construct a road to be used for a future cell tower yet to be erected. While operating the heavy equipment, the bull-dozer overturned, ejected Mr. Steele, where it is believed Steele died instantly.
The Sheriff contacted the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for it to conduct its federally mandated investigation into the facts and circumstances of Mr. Steele’s death. OSHA went back to the scene with Sheriff Hollan the following day, October 8, 2020.
OSHA conducted its investigation, the results of which are unknown as of the publishing of this story. Sheriff Hollan told the Times-Voice the sheriff department’s investigation will remain open until the OSHA investigation is complete.
Breathitt county coroner, Hargis Epperson, transported Mr. Steele’s body to Louisville, Kentucky for the purposes of performing an autopsy. The results of the autopsy are, likewise, not known as of the date of the publishing of this story.