The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 18, 2014

OSHA investigating Clinton Walmart death

By Brenden West Herald Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Iowa Division of Labor are investigating a Jan. 1 incident that led to the death of a Clinton Walmart employee.

Charles M. Wilson, Sr., 63, of Clinton, was working in the store's storage room late that evening when, a Walmart spokesperson said, Wilson fell off a ladder and sustained injuries. He received immediate medical attention and was eventually transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. Five days later, on Jan. 6, Wilson died from his injuries at the hospital.

Jens Nissen, an executive officer with Iowa Occupational Safety and Health, said OSHA inspects most work-related incidents that lead to a fatality.

"That's our responsibility," Nissen said. "We are conducting an inspection and investigation of that."

Jason Dennis, manager of the Clinton Walmart, said Wilson's death was tragic news for Walmart staff, many of who referred to Wilson as "Papa Charlie." The nickname refers to Wilson's time spent as a veteran of the Vietnam War.

"He was part of a really neat group of individuals here," Dennis said Friday. "As you can imagine, the time that we spent together, we kind of became close."

Walmart staff has made shirts to commemorate their memories of Wilson. The word "Slacker" appears on the back of the shirts, referring to the man's playful nickname for coworkers. The front reads "Papa Charlie's Army" in reference to the veteran's service and coworkers' nickname.

A spokesperson with Walmart said the company has been in contact with Wilson's family throughout the process of the investigation. Wilson is survived by his wife, Karen, eight children and 13 grandchildren.

Dianna Gee, the spokeswoman, said Walmart is fully cooperating with OSHA during the inspection and investigation.

"During any type of workplace incident like this we provide them with all the information we have," Gee said.

Meanwhile, employees affected by Wilson's death have been provided counseling services.

Nissen said OSHA could not release any specifics regarding the incident, but said the investigation must be complete within a six-month time frame.

"In this particular case, I can't imagine why it would approach that length of time," he said.