A forklift operator plunged 80 feet down an elevator shaft to his death on Monday while working on the conversion of a historic Milwaukee warehouse to self-storage. Anthony D. Azarian, 32, had extended the forklift bucket to knock away bricks when the vehicle became unstable and fell seven stories. Azarian was inside the forklift cage, according to the source.
Azarian worked for his father’s demolition company, Sam Azarian Wrecking Co., for several years and was considered a skilled forklift driver. His death came two days after the birth of his son, his family told the source.
The eight-story, 102,600-square-foot former Coakley building at 3742 W. Wisconsin Ave. is being converted by real estate development company Platform II-Wisconsin LLC, which acquired the property in 2017 for $1.8 million.
Constructed in 1928, the warehouse is a landmark known for its clock tower. As part of the purchase, Platform II agreed to preserve the historic integrity of the structure. The walled-off elevator shaft had previously been used to move vehicles. The demolition company was modifying it to make it suitable to transport people, the source reported.
No one from Platform II was onsite at the time of the incident. “We are definitely at a loss for the family,” said developer Scott Krone, who contracted Azarian Wrecking. “We are terribly sorry for them.”
The facility will be Krone’s first storage development in Wisconsin, though he’s built four in the Chicago area.
This is the third work-related death associated with the demolition company in the last 20 years. Azarian’s uncle was killed nearly two decades ago when he was buried by a trench collapse. Another Azarian Wrecking employee was killed about a year later when he was pulled into an asphalt crusher, according to the source.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating Monday’s incident.
Daily Reporter, Man Dies After Falling 7 Stories Down Elevator Shaft