Family remembers KC water service employee who died in accident - KCTV5

Family remembers KC water service employee who died in accident

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A Kansas City family is remembering their loved one who died on the job while working as a water department supervisor.

Donald Fenton, a wastewater maintenance division utility repair supervisor, was working on a sewer line just behind the police department's South Patrol station last Monday evening. 

His family honored him Sunday, laying flowers at the spot where he was killed. 

A memorial is growing there with his work boots and hard hat, which the family said he hardly ever took off in his 14 years with the water department.

"We just wanted to remember Donald as the loving person that he was, and to let him know that he has family here that is still thinking about him, reaching out to him," Fenton's sister, Tina Mitchell, said.

Fenton's fellow crew members said he had gone down in a manhole by himself to fix a problem, when they heard an explosion, and the manhole filled with water, trapping him inside.

By the time they managed to pull him out and emergency responders got there, he had passed away.

"It's a tragic accident, but I'm glad it wasn't any other kind of way that he went, because he loved his job," Fenton's sister, Donika Simmons, said.

And that's how those left behind are remembering him - for his dedication to his work.

"The city, the city, the city, he would not take the uniform off, we teased him about that," Mitchell said.

He also made sure his family, including a fiancee and two daughters, were well care for.

"He wanted his daughters to be well taken care of, he always wanted them to be OK. He worked a lot because he wanted to provide a lot," Fenton's fiancee, Sparkle Wilson, said.

Now, looking back, his fiancee thinks he may have worked too much.

"He would literally come in six days a week, at 6 a.m. and not get off until 12 a.m. in the morning," Wilson said.

Wilson said Fenton came in on his day off, the day he died.  She said she is not blaming anyone, but she thinks employers like the city, should tighten restrictions on overtime hours.

"I understand you have to get a job done, but at the same time your workers need rest, and they would just let them come in, there should be a restriction. Even if a worker wants to come in, they need to say no, it has to be a limit," Wilson said.

The water department said their initial reports show a plug somehow came loose in a sewer line, and that's what made water flood into the manhole where Fenton was working.

Their investigation is still going on, and they expect to release a full report in the next few weeks.

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