DPW employees fired for falsifying records in worker death

Scott Hendrickson

Four employees with the Indianapolis Department of Public Works face disciplinary action after DPW says they falsified official records. Two men were fired and two others face suspensions.

The records pertained to the accident that led to the death of Thomas Welch on April 8, 2013. Welch was a DPW solid waste employee.

Welch, 45, was working as part of a two-man crew. He was killed when the trash truck hit a pothole as it was backing up.

The DPW determined that Solid Waste Administrator John Workman altered a training document for the victim of the accident, and ordered DPW supervisor Scott Hendrickson to collect other vehicle maintenance documents to make them "right."

According to DPW's investigation, Hendrickson asked two of his fellow DPW supervisors, Willie Henson and James Edwards, to assist him in signing and backdating more than a dozen of vehicle maintenance logs.

Workman and Hendrickson were fired from their jobs, and Henson and Edwards were suspended for five days.

"The actions taken by these four DPW Solid Waste employees are senseless infractions of City and DPW policies," DPW Director Lori Miser said. "We have responded with disciplinary action for all employees involved, and we are examining our internal processes to identify areas that can be strengthened."

DPW says the vehicle maintenance documents in question are called Vehicle Check Sheets. The forms are used to note performance and maintenance issues with the vehicles and are similar to forms a private citizen would sign prior to taking possession of a rental car. 

While the content of the documents was not altered, DPW says they were signed by a supervisor and backdated. DPW says the maintenance and training documents, altered or unaltered, would not have affected the course of events leading up to the accident on April 8. 

IMPD investigators, IOSHA and the Marion County Prosecutors Office have been notified.