Snow cleanup turns deadly for city worker

February 6, 2011 7:35:46 AM PST
Days after the Blizzard of 2011, Chicagoans are helping each other dig out, costing one city worker his life.

The city worker was a 10-year veteran of the Streets and Sanitation Department and suffered a heart attack while clearing snow.

His death underscores how difficult the clean-up has been for city workers.

While most folks are using shovels Saturday night, Scott Carlson is atop his three-ton tractor making him very popular.

"Lots of neighbors are coming out and asking for help, so come to the rescue, charge a little money to pay for gas and labor, and it's all good," Carlson said.

At $10 a vehicle, his neighbors say they're grateful.

"He just yanked me right out. He has a rig on the back of his truck, so he just attached a chain and yanked me out," said Carlson's neighbor Jordan Jacobson.

"It worked out perfect for us, believe me. Look at this, we've got mountains here," said Carlson's neighbor Jose Ledezma.

On the city's South Side, Daniel Johnson and his cousin spent Saturday morning digging out his mother's car which was buried by a thick layer of packed and frozen snow.

"What makes it harder is when the snow gets really, really hard, so it's like even harder to dig in there and shovel it out," Johnson said.

Many residents fought the battle by hand. Neighbors teamed up to tackle alleys, street corners and sidewalks.

"It is getting better. It was really bad the last few days. It is starting to open up. Good citizens are shoveling. It has gotten better," said Ted Noll.

More than 500 snow plows and other pieces of equipment continue to hit the city's 3,300 miles of side streets.

Blizzard cleanup turned tragic Saturday morning when a city truck driver died on the job.

Billy King, 60, suffered a heart attack and died while shoveling snow around garbage bins in an alley on West Devon.

His friend Rodolfo Gamino said King was generous towards strangers, especially during Christmastime.

"He used to talk to these waitresses and he'd turn to me and say, 'Rudy, this woman has about five kids. Let's put some money together and buy her a tree.' That was Billy King," Gamino said.

"We always talk about police and fire and the job they do, and we love them for that. But we always gotta think about our Streets and San. workers, the way they take care of our streets," said 30th Ward Alderman Ariel E. Rebovras.

As residents continue to dig out their vehicles, the city says it plans to resume parking meter enforcement in the central business district 9 a.m. Monday.

The area of enforcement is bordered by Oak Street, Lake Shore Drive, Roosevelt and Halsted.