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Death of worker at Harford plumbing distribution center under investigation

State occupational safety officials are investigating the death last week of a Forest Hill man working at the Northeastern Supply Inc. central distribution center near Aberdeen.

Harford County Sheriff's Office deputies and Aberdeen Fire Department paramedics responded to the call late on the morning of Jan. 28, according to Cristie Kahler, spokesperson for the Harford County Sheriff's Office and Rich Gardiner, spokesperson for the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association.

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Gardiner said in an email that the man had suffered "life-threatening injuries from a fall."

Deputies arrived around 11:20 a.m., Kahler said in an email.

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Kahler identified the victim as 33-year-old Eric Jones. Mr. Jones had been operating a forklift in Northeastern Supply's distribution center, which is in the 500 block of Advantage Avenue in the Perryman industrial areas, a few miles southwest of the center of Aberdeen.

Another forklift "bumped" into Mr. Jones' forklift, and he fell backward about 20 feet to the floor, according to Kahler.

Mr. Jones was pronounced dead at the scene, Kahler stated.

Sheriff's Office detectives determined through their initial investigation that the incident was not a matter of foul play. They then turned the case over to Maryland Occupational Safety and Health, or MOSH, according to Kahler.

Maureen O'Connor, communications director for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, said Friday that MOSH officials are conducting an "active investigation" into Mr. Jones' death, but she declined to comment further.

Several attempts to reach the company by telephone for comment were unsuccessful.

Northeastern Supply, a regional supplier of parts and appliances for HVAC, plumbing and water systems, is headquartered in Golden Ring and operates more than 30 branches in Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to the company website.

Northeastern Supply's Harford County presence includes its Aberdeen distribution center, a branch on South Philadelphia Boulevard in Aberdeen and a combined branch and showroom on Laurel Bush Road in Bel Air South, according to the company website.

Last week's death was the third workplace related death in Harford County during January.

One man died and another was injured in a construction accident along Route 24 near Rocks State Park on Jan. 16, when a piece of construction equipment nipped a Jersey barrier and sent it tumbling into the stream bed where the workers were, according to Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police.

The dead man, who has not been publicly identified by investigators, was hit by the Jersey wall and was taken to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, where he died. The second man was hit by debris and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, fire officials said.

The men were working in an area where State Highway Administration contractors have been working since last summer on a $6 million-plus project to shore up the stream bank of Deer Creek below the highway.

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MOSH is also investigating that accident, a spokesperson said last month.

On Jan. 6, a paid paramedic working for the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Capt. Erik Steciak, was fatally struck by a fire company vehicle that slipped on icy pavement while he was responding to an accident call at a home near Bel Air during snow and ice conditions.

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