Investigation into DPW worker death continues

Thomas Welch was killed on the job April 8.

There are still many questions surrounding the death of a DPW trash collector killed on the job.

During the course of that investigation, the city fired two administrators for falsifying safety training records that belonged to the worker who was killed.

Now, 13 Investigates reveals why the prosecutor's office is weighing possible charges.

Before any waste management truck leaves the garage, crews are supposed to list any defects found during a pre-inspection on a vehicle check list.

It's not just city policy, but federal law.

DPW supervisors, like Scott Hendrickson, are supposed to verify those defects and determine whether the vehicle can be operated without hazards.

On April 8, the day employee Thomas Welch was run over by the garbage truck he was working on, the supervisor lines for that truck were blank.

"The vehicle didn't have any maintenance issues of note on those maintenance documents," said DPW spokeswoman Lesley Gordon.

But when Indiana Occupational Safety and Health investigators requested the maintenance logs and all safety and training records, panic apparently set in and the falsification of records began..

"Our administrator, John Workman, asked his supervisors to make them right," revealed Gordon.

Not only were driver maintenance records signed and back dated, but so were the victim's training records.

"It does show that the training was completed, but the actual document would be considered incomplete without those final signatures," Gordon said.

The falsified records were handed over to IOSHA as part of their investigation.

"That is when a DPW employee came forward and said that those documents had been falsified," Gordon explained.

Workman and Hendrickson were fired. Two other supervisors asked to sign 12 other documents were suspended for five days.

DPW says it's not sure why the workers went to such extremes.

According to the state, a search of records covering a 10-year period for DPW revealed no safety violations and no formal complaints against the agency.

As the accident investigation into the death of Welch continues, the prosecutor's office is weighing whether criminal violations are warranted for the DPW workers who falsified records.

"Is there any reason to believe that perhaps even the earlier signatures weren't done when they say they were done?," asked 13 Investigates reporter Sandra Chapman.

"No not at this time," responded Gordon, who says the investigation could last up to six months.

Neither Workman nor Hendrickson could be reached for comment. The Welch family has hired an attorney.

DPW insists the proper checks were made, but lacked final signatures. Now, the city is looking to add now safeguards to ensure the proper signatures are made.