Head injury was cause of mechanic's death at MSPby Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — State workplace safety investigators are looking into the apparently accidental death this morning of a mechanic for Delta Air Lines.
Authorities identified the mechanic as Jesse Paul Stygar, 47, of Rosemount.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office said Stygar died of a head injury.
Stygar had been working on a plane parked at gate G14 at the Lindbergh Terminal at the Twin Cities airport. Airport police received an emergency call about Stygar at about 5:30 a.m. Police were told a body had been discovered in the front landing gear area of the jet at gate G14.
Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said he believes Stygar was actually found inside the front landing gear compartment of the jet.
When they arrived, medical personnel could not detect a pulse in Stygar.
"Our condolences and thoughts go out to his family and co-workers," said Delta spokesman Anthony Black.
James Honerman of the Minnesota Occupational Health and Safety Administration says it's unclear at this point what happened.
"Our goal is just to see what caused or may have contributed to the accident and going froward avoid a recurrence of such events in the future," he said.
Since the start of 2009, Honerman said the state OSHA department has received two workplace safety complaints about Delta's operations at the airport. But he said neither complaint was substantiated, and no citations were issued.
Sygar's death was the 10th workplace death in Minnesota this year. The state has averaged 21 workplace deaths annually from 2005 to 2009. Most deaths occurred in construction and industrial settings.
Honerman says deaths typically occur when a worker is crushed or struck by something or a worker falls from a dangerous height.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said that agency would not investigate the incident because the plane had not been boarded by passengers.
"If there's simply maintenance going on while an accident may have occurred, that's not something the NTSB would investigate," he said.
The NTSB accident database indicates that since 2000 the agency has investigated the deaths of four airline employees who died in accidents occurring on airfields.
In January 2006 in El Paso, Texas, a Continental Airlines mechanic was sucked into a jet engine, as he and other mechanics looked for an oil leak. The mechanic had stepped into a designated hazard zone near the engine.
The driver of a baggage loader was killed in June 2005 after colliding with a US Airways Express jet at the Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.
In September 2003, a Northwest Airlines employee in Norfolk, Va., was crushed between a tractor tug and plane.
A ramp agent for US Airways Express was killed in August 2001 at the Ronald Reagan National Airport when he was struck by the propeller blades of a plane.
- All Things Considered, 06/15/2010, 5:19 p.m.