What led to contractor’s death in grease trap at ABIA? Airport commission meets while questions remain

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s been exactly five months since a tragic incident involving a contractor who was cleaning out a grease trap at the Austin Airport.

Lonnie Deary was in an underground vault at ABIA’s East Loading dock when he suffocated on toxic gases. He died the following day.

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KXAN investigators have since learned that Deary shouldn’t have been underground, and that his company, Liquid Environmental Solutions, was not confined space trained.

The city’s Airport Advisory Commission met on Tuesday, but airport management didn’t provide any updates on what led up to Deary’s tragic death.

One commissioner has asked for information on airport safety protocols.

He wrote in part: “Our goal must always be to prevent injuries and deaths to ensure workers return home to their families each night.  I would also please ask for a report on risk assessment beyond this specific incident at an upcoming meeting.”

The City of Austin is preparing for a potential lawsuit on behalf of Lonnie Deary’s family.

The city released a memo last week, saying that while it wasn’t subject to OSHA regulations and enforcement, it would be complying with the Federal investigation.

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