Man dies in snow removal accident
December 26, 2003
By Jeff Munson
Tribune city editor
STATELINE – A 38-year-old road maintenance supervisor from Gardnerville died early Friday when he got caught in a large piece of snow removal equipment he was trying to unclog.
Eric Eisele died of blunt force trauma to the head and torso at 9:04 a.m., about 40 minutes after the accident, a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy said. The accident happened at the Boulder Lodge of Heavenly Mountain Resort as he and a colleague were removing snow from the parking lot, said Deputy Jeff Schemenaur.
Eisele was not a Heavenly employee. He worked for Kingsbury-based Manchester Enterprises, which contracts with the ski resort.
A colleague who witnessed the accident told investigators that Eisele stopped the heavy machinery to clean out the clogged blade. The blade is designed to rotate backward at a slow speed for cleaning purposes. Eisele stuck a wood shovel into the blade to clean it, where it caught his arm, lifted his body and pushed him through the blower, authorities said.
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Word of Eisele’s death stunned many who knew and worked with him in the Upper Kingsbury Grade enclave of Summit Village. He was a Johnson Lane Volunteer Fire Department firefighter.
Eisele is remembered by friends and co-workers for his solid work ethic and sense of humor.
“He was a good guy all around,” said Manchester snow removal operator Bob Reynolds, who was supervised by Eisele for about six years. “He worked hard and had a good sense of where people needed to be put, especially when the storms come in.”
Reynolds saw Eisele about 20 minutes before the accident, commenting on Reynolds’ Santa Claus hat that he wore to work Friday. Eisele asked Reynolds if he had a good Christmas.
“And then he looked at the hat and said, ‘Did you get any presents or are you giving them out today?’
“And he was gone. That was the last thing he said to me.”
Tramway Market Manager Pam Bricker knew Eisele for at least six years and recalled how he and his crew would routinely plow the parking lot of the Kingsbury Grade store. For their services, Bricker would always offer them coffee, sodas and pastries.
Though Eisele was not a coffee drinker, he would come in the store to warm up a few times a day before going back to work. In summer Eisele would do excavation work for Manchester and in winter he supervised the company’s snow removal team.
He had a lively sense of humor and was a regular fix-it guy, Bricker recalled, adding that he recently helped her fix a door at the store that wouldn’t close properly.
“He always made sure the lot was plowed and he’d always make sure my place on Andria Drive was cleared,” Bricker said. “I’d always let him and the crew have whatever they needed here because they’ve always taken good care of us.”
Mike Paulson, maintenance manager for the Tahoe Village condominium complex, saw Eisele at least twice a week in winter. They would touch base on snow removal concerns before cutting a few jokes.
“I’ve known Eric for maybe 10 years. This guy always kept his nose to the grindstone. One of the hardest workers out here. Underneath the hard work, though, this guy was just a real regular guy with a good heart,” Paulson said. “Why is it that they always take the good ones?”