City and Gage County officials said Mike Genschork was standing on the building’s roof and 69-year-old Kenneth Hollingshead of Kansas was in the crane’s cab trying to replace a 25-ton filter known as a rotating biological contactor when the crane buckled and collapsed.
Beatrice Fire and Rescue, Beatrice Police and Gage County Sheriff’s Department officials received the call about 11:30 a.m. Thursday that the 55-ton crane had buckled at the southern Beatrice plant. Genschork, an employee of Kaw Valley Builders of Wamego, Kan., the subcontractor for BRB Contractors of Topeka, Kan., was killed when either he was hit by the crane or the rotating biological contactor and fell into the wastewater in the plant below.
The rotating biological contactor then fell on the cab, trapping Hollingshead. Gage County Attorney Dick Smith said the exact cause of Genschork’s death has not yet been determined. “We’re going to do an autopsy to see what the cause of the death was,” he said. “He was found down in the water and they drained some of the water to get him out.” The autopsy was scheduled for Friday morning.
Hollingshead was extricated from the cab by rescue crews and immediately transported to Beatrice Community Hospital. Bob Feit, director of administrative services for Beatrice, said he’s hopeful Hollingshead will recover from this.
“Hopefully, we were able to save one person,” he said. It took a rescue crew approximately 45 minutes to free Hollingshead, who was transferred from BCH in fair condition to Bryan LGH Medical Center West in Lincoln Thursday afternoon and remained in fair condition Friday morning. Hollingshead has been living in a camper with his wife at Chautauqua Park while working in Beatrice.
Feit said a four rotating biological contactors were being replaced at the sewer plant. One was installed in the spring and another was installed just recently. There were two more to be installed when Thursday’s accident occurred.
The plant will be secured until Occupational Safety Health Administration officials release it. Feit said he doesn’t know when OSHA will open up the site again, but he expects it to be sometime next week. The delay in work, Feit said, should not be a problem for the city’s sewage system.
“This was preventative maintenance,” he said. “Everything we can put back on line is on line at this time.”
Michael Dean Genschorck – Age 40, Wamego, passed away from injuries sustained in a construction accident.
He was born May 8, 1959, at Marysville, the son of Dean Genschorck and Barbara Baker Genschorck. He moved with his family to Manhattan at a very early age and grew up in Manhattan where he attended the local schools and was a graduate of Manhattan High School. He had lived in Wamego the past three years.
He was united in marriage to Delores Fairchild on Sept. 6, 1997, in Wamego. She survives of the home.
Mr. Genschorck was an iron worker for the Kaw Valley Builders Company and a member of the St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Wamego.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three sons, Paul, Kelly and Jamie Genschorck, all of Manhattan; a stepson, Jesse James Fox, Wamego; two stepdaughters, Venessa Fox of Wamego and Suzette Cordova of Santa Ana, Calif; his parents, Dean and Barbara Genschorck of Manhattan; two brothers, Larry Genschorck of Sibley Iowa, and Robert Genschorck of Manhattan; and a sister, Diane Eckart of Manhattan.