College student suffered head trauma in Wisconsin dumbwaiter death

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2014 10:09 PM

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - A 21-year-old college student died of severe head trauma after being struck by the cab of a dumbwaiter at a bar and grill in western Wisconsin, an autopsy released on Tuesday found.

Brooke Baures, a student at Winona State University and former member of its gymnastics team, was found dead on Dec. 1 in the food elevator at the Wingdam Bar and Saloon where she worked in Fountain City, Wisconsin.

The autopsy report and investigation determined Baures suffered severe trauma when the top of the dumbwaiter cab struck her head as it passed the sill of the second-floor opening, according to Fountain City Police Chief Jason Mork.

Mork said it was an accident, adding it was not known why her head was in the device.

Baures was waiting tables and bartending a banquet for 18 people on the restaurant's second floor when the incident occurred, according to police.

Baures was a senior at the university in Winona, Minnesota, about 7 miles southeast of Fountain City.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services are investigating the incident.

Deaths involving food elevators are rare, but not unheard of, according to OSHA. The last similar U.S. death in OSHA records was in 2011, when a worker died after falling onto an overloaded dumbwaiter at a restaurant in Oklahoma City.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Peter Cooney)