Mom speaks out after son overheats, dies while working outside

Mother speaks out after son dies from overheating on 4th day at new job

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - A 23-year-old landscaper died after overheating on Friday, July 22.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Tyler Halsey was working on the ground, flagging traffic, chipping limbs and stacking brush during tree trimming work near Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

He became overheated at around 4:30 p.m. when the heat index reached about 110 degrees.

According to OSHA, Tyler had been in the heat since his shift started at around 7 a.m. He was hospitalized with a core temperature of more than 108 degrees and died on Saturday, July 23.

OSHA stated the employee died on his fourth day working for Townsend Tree Service of Muncie, Indiana.

Tammy Kennedy said her son was ecstatic about his new job as a tree trimmer.

"He just walked tall. He was walking taller," Kennedy said.

She said Tyler was looking for a job for quite some time.

According to Kennedy, Halsey battled with mental illness, and this job gave him a sense of being one of the guys.

"When he found out he got the job he was like – let's go get this..I need a lunchbox, and I need everything. He was so excited to be out there," said Kennedy.

His friend got him the job at Townsend Tree Service.

They say the Dexter, Mo. resident was part of a three-man crew that was trimming trees along overhead power lines.

"He was drinking. He had his jug. I know he was tired because he wasn't used to all the work," Kennedy said.

"A review of heat-related deaths revealed the majority of workers had just started the job, and frequently it was their first day on the job and the workers were not acclimated to the constant exposure to the heat and sun," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo.

Kennedy agreed.

"People can't go 90 to nothing for 10 hours when they haven't really ever had to do that before," Kennedy said.

She hopes her son's death can help others remember to take care of themselves in the field.

"If you feel like you are not acting right or feeling right – stop," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said she remembers the last day he went to work.

"I just remember him standing in the doorway to my room with his vest on, and his stuff all ready to go, and he was happy. He was happy," Kennedy said.

A funeral for Halsey will be at the Rainey-Mathis Funeral Chapel in Dexter on Wednesday, July 27 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The funeral service will be conducted on Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Eric Krapf officiating. You can click here for more information.

With temperatures expected to continue well into the 90s and the 100s for the next several days throughout much of the nation, OSHA is reminding employers to protect workers that may be exposed to extreme heat while working outdoors or in hot indoor environments.

OSHA released the following tips to prevent heat-related illness and deaths:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty
  • Rest in the shade to cool down
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing
  • Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency
  • Keep an eye on fellow workers
  • "Easy does it" on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it

According to OSHA, the risk of heat stress increases for workers 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure or take medications.

Those employed in hot indoor environments such as firefighters, bakers, factory and boiler room workers are also at risk when temperatures rise.

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