Avista employee killed during school event identified - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Avista employee killed during school event identified

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Bob Smith of Othello, WA Bob Smith of Othello, WA

OTHELLO, Wash. - A utility truck's aerial bucket collapsed during a school demonstration in Othello Thursday afternoon, killing 50-year-old Bob Smith, of Othello, an employee of Avista Utilities, and injuring a grade school teacher.

Othello police say the pair had been lifted 20 to 30 feet in the air when the boom separated from its base and fell. They were thrown from the bucket when it hit the ground outside Hiawatha Elementary School.

Killed was 50-year-old Bob Smith, of Othello, an employee of Avista Utilities. Smith joined the company in 1984, and was working as a line foreman.

The teacher, Melissa Martinez, was hospitalized for treatment of what were described as non-life-threatening injuries.

The pair were participating in an annual "egg drop" science demonstration when the accident occurred at about 1:45 p.m. Several hundred school children were on the playground to watch the event.

Avista spokeswoman Jessie Wuerst says the company will investigate the cause of the accident. Police Chief Steve Dunnagan says the state Department of Labor and Industries also has been called in to investigate.

Dunnagan says school district officials are taking steps to provide counseling for the children who saw the deadly accident.

Othello is in Adams County about 40 miles north of Richland. 

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