PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Two people are dead and an investigation is underway into a bulldozer accident at a property on West Morgan Road around 6 p.m. Monday. The victims have been identified by the Ashtabula County Coroner's Office as Kevin Scott Moore, 44, of Conneaut, and Barbara Ann Hammer, 39, of Ashtabula.
Sheriff Bill Johnson said Moore and Hammer were picking up a 1968 bulldozer that Moore had purchased from a previous owner of the property for $1,500.
Witnesses told investigators the bulldozer was stuck, in gear, when Moore got out of the driver's seat to examine the engine.. Witnesses said the bulldozer then released a thick plume of smoke and lurched forward, hitting Moore and Hammer.
“It appears like it was a tragic accident at this point,” Johnson said. “It looked like it knocked him over, caught him by surprise when it did take off, and it continued to move until it stopped in a position where it couldn’t go any further.”
The bulldozer continued for 75 yards, dragging the vehicle the pair arrived in, before smashing through a fence and coming to rest at a tree line across the street from the property, according to investigators.
Moore and Hammer worked together at American Landfill Management, and a preliminary investigation showed Moore was planning to move the bulldozer to his property for personal use, according to Johnson.
“It was surreal,” American Landfill Management President Steve Kilper said. “They were very good friends, and all of our employees here are. It's very tight, so we lost two family members.”
Kilper said Moore was experienced using large equipment on the job and in a construction business he used to operate, making his death even more shocking.
“They both have families, children, grandchildren, spouses. It’s a pretty big blow to us here said Kilper.
The exact cause of the bulldozer's movement remains under investigation.