“They lost the person who had been taking care of them."
A US Indian man was sadly crushed to death by aeroplane equipment while working at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Jijo George, aged 35, worked as a mechanic for an airline.
According to autopsy results, he died of multiple injuries after being crushed by an “aircraft drivable pushback apparatus” at a hangar at the airport on December 13, 2020.
Mr George was originally from Pathanapuram, Kerala, but moved to Chicago for a better life.
After moving to the US, he earned an associates degree in mechanical engineering and landed a job as a mechanic at Envoy Air in 2018.
His cousin Blesson George said he and his wife had a two-year-old child and were expecting another within the next month.
Mr George was the sole provider for his household, which also included his parents and brother’s family.
Blesson said: “It took him 17 years to get where he is now – by working hard – and then suddenly it’s all gone.
“He was taking care of everyone.
“They lost the person who had been taking care of them. They’re all crying… Life was about to get better for him, and that’s when this happened to him.”
Chicago Police were called at around 2 pm and found the US Indian man unresponsive under the vehicle. He was taken to Resurrection Medical Centre but later died. His death was ruled as an accident.
The family was given hardly any details about Mr George’s death from Envoy Air.
Blesson said: “That’s the hardest part. The only thing we heard from them is that he got in an accident.”
After pressing the company, the family were told that he was crushed to death by a piece of equipment he was working on.
Blesson explained: “Envoy, they never let us know anything.
“We were in the dark for hours after this tragedy. We tried to reach these people for 24 hours, and no one picked up the phone.
“Finally, they flew eight or nine people to investigate this matter. The company isn’t ready to tell us what really happened.”
A spokesperson for Envoy Air said Mr George was fatally injured at its ground equipment shop.
Minnette Vélez-Conty said: “We are providing support to the family and our employees to help them through this loss.
“Currently, the situation is under investigation by our safety organisation.”
“We reiterate our commitment to safety and security as we conscientiously maintain policies, processes and systems to achieve the highest levels of safety in the workplace.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death and has up to six months to issue workplace safety citations.
Nisha Eric is part of Chicago’s Indian community and has helped to raise funds for the family.
She said: “It’s a tragedy. Even if you don’t know people like him, it’s important for us to extend a helping hand to his family.”
Over $86,000 has been raised so far.