News Briefs: Wastewater Operator Dies in Oxidation Ditch

News Briefs: Wastewater Operator Dies in Oxidation Ditch

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Operator Jerry Connolly, 56, died at the Belle Plaine (Minnesota) Wastewater Treatment Plant on Aug. 5. Investigators believe Connolly drowned in an oxidation ditch at the plant, although the incident is still pending autopsy results. His body was discovered in 16 feet of water.

“We are very saddened with this unfortunate accident and the loss of a longtime city employee and friend to us all,” says Belle Plaine Police Chief Tom Stollee in a Belle Plaine Herald article.

Co-workers reported seeing Connolly on his lunch hour. He was not seen during the afternoon, and his body was discovered at 5:05 p.m.

OSHA is conducting an investigation. Preliminary results indicate no problem with the facility’s safety systems.

Connolly worked for the city for 23 years in various roles. He managed the plant from 2002 to 2009 before earning his operator’s license in 2009. He worked as the plant’s licensed facility operator since 2009, often working solo at the facility. 

“We’re very sad,” says City Administrator Holly Kreft in the article. “Jerry was a wonderful man and a great employee. He always had a smile on his face and usually a chuckle.”

For more information and to express condolences, please visit the Kolden Funeral Home memorial page.


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