picture for representation
picture for representation
Photo: AFP

A 36-year old Indian-American man working at the Chicago O'Hare International Airport died after being crushed by airplane equipment, snatching away the main breadwinner for the extended family.

Jijo George died of multiple injuries after being crushed by an "aircraft drivable pushback apparatus" at a hangar at the airport, according to autopsy results released on Monday by the Cook County medical examiner's office.

He was a maintenance mechanic for Envoy Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group.

George is survived by his wife, who is 8-month pregnant, a young child and his parents.

George emigrated from India 17 years ago and worked hard to make things better for his family.

He earned an associate degree in mechanical engineering and landed a job as a mechanic at Envoy Air at O'Hare International Airport about two years ago, the Chicago Sun Times quoted his family as saying.

"It took him 17 years to get where he is now - by working hard - and then suddenly it's all gone," his cousin Blesson George said.

George was the main provider for his household, which also included his parents and brother's family.

"He was taking care of everyone," Blesson George said. "They lost the person who had been taking care of them. They're all crying. ... Life was about to get better for him, and that's when this happened to him." An online fundraiser has been organised to raise funds for George's family. George had moved to Chicago from Pathanapuram, Kerala.

Chicago police said they were called about 2 pm to the airport for a man unresponsive under the vehicle.

George was taken to Resurrection Medical Center, where he died at 3:50 pm, authorities said. The autopsy ruled his death an accident, a report in the Chicago Sun Times said.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Envoy Air said George was fatally injured at its ground equipment shop.

"We are providing support to the family and our employees to help them through this loss," the spokeswoman, Minnette Velez-Conty, said.

"Currently, the situation is under investigation by our safety organisation. We reiterate our commitment to safety and security as we conscientiously maintain policies, processes and systems to achieve the highest levels of safety in the workplace," she said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the death, and has up to six months to issue workplace safety citations, the report quoted a US Department of Labour spokesperson as saying.

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