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Feds investigate fatal quarry accident in Garrison

Michael Griffith's death was first in Wendling Quarries' 60-year history, company said

Michael Griffith (submitted photo)
Michael Griffith (submitted photo)
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The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is investigating a death last week at the Wendling Quarry near Garrison, officials confirmed.

Michael L. Griffith, 30, of Vinton, died from being trapped in a rock bin Jan. 8, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office reported last week.

Wendling safety officers reported the accident to the mine safety administration, which had investigators on site Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with plans to return Monday, said John Kulper, Wendling safety director.

Kulper said he did not yet know how Griffith became trapped in the bin, which has a conveyor belt that delivers finished limestone from the quarry to trucks. Eleven employees were working Jan. 8 and no one else was injured, Kulper said.

Wendling Quarries, founded in 1958, operates about 100 quarries in Eastern Iowa and western Illinois and employs about 200 people to produce crushed stone, sand, gravel and asphalt mix.

Griffith’s death was the first fatality in the company’s history, Kulper said. Griffith worked in quality control, according to his obituary.

Griffith, a 2008 graduate of Waukon High School, was married and expecting his first daughter in May, according to his obituary. He was a Dallas Cowboys fan who loved camping, fishing, deer hunting and being outdoors.

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“Michael was the kind of guy that would drop anything for anyone,” the obituary said. “He was incredibly patient, easy going and couldn’t say ‘no’ to anyone in need. His smile and laugh was incredibly infectious and could bring a smile to anyone’s face.”

A GoFundMe campaign to help Griffith’s wife, Brea, with expenses already had surpassed its $10,000 goal with $12,800 from 150 donors as of Monday afternoon.

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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