Westerly town employee run over and killed at highway garage

December 21, 2018

Westerly — A veteran town employee was killed Wednesday afternoon when he was run over by a trailer driven by a fellow employee at the town highway garage.

Police said that Chief Mechanic Angelo Turano, 53, of Westerly was bending over to look at the brakes on the trailer when fellow employee Scott Wells, 57, of Bradford began to pull the trailer forward, knocking Turano to the ground and running over his chest. A third employee who was standing next to Turano yelled for Wells to stop, and he did, after just a few feet.

On Thursday afternoon, Police Chief Shawn Lacey provided a detailed account of the incident during a press conference at Town Hall.

Lacey, who said he went to school with Turano and knows his family, said he leaves his wife, two children in high school and one in college, as well as his mother and three sisters. Turano had worked for highway department for 22 years and Wells for 16.

“Westerly is a small community. You’ll find a lot of Turanos in Westerly,” he said, describing Turano “as a wonderful guy with a great personality.”

“He was full of life, happy-go-lucky,” he said.

Lacey said he does not foresee any criminal charges being lodged against Wells, adding that he expects the accident reconstruction to be completed in about a week. Even then, Lacey said it may never be known why Turano had bent down to look at the brakes as Wells started to drive forward.

Lacey said counseling was held for town employees and first responders Thursday. He and town Manager Mark Rooney also met with Turano’s family to explain what happened.

“We’re doing the best we can to work with the family,” he said.

Lacey said that at 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday, police received a call of an accident at the highway garage on Larry Hirsch Lane, and officers arrived six minutes later. He sad police found Turano lying on his back in front of the rear passenger side tires of the 40-foot-long trailer. The cab and trailer are used to haul trash to a landfill in Johnston, R.I.

Lacey said it was apparent the trailer had rolled over Turano’s chest. Turano was transported to Westerly Hospital, where he arrived at 2:36 p.m. Emergency room staff attended to him, but at 3:08 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

Lacey said that Wells had been having problems with the brakes on his trailer and had pulled into the garage to notify Turano of the problem. Turano told Wells to park the trailer in a nearby location. As Wells began to move the trailer forward, Turano was on the other side of the trailer bending over to look at the brakes. He was knocked to the ground, and the other employees yelled for Wells to stop. Lacey said the trailer moved about two feet.

Lacey said an autopsy was performed on Turano Thursday morning. While the final report is not yet available, Lacey said the preliminary report is that the cause of death was chest trauma.

He said the police department’s accident reconstruction team and state Department of Labor, which will look at whether town procedures were followed, are both investigating the incident.

“The question were asking is why he was back under the vehicle. We may not ever be able to answer that,” Lacey said.

Update hourly