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Ambulance Fatally Crushes N.C. Mechanic

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Wake County will investigate its maintenance procedures after a slipped pneumatic jack caused a man to be fatally crushed by an ambulance, County Manager David Cooke said Wednesday.

"We've stopped all work and are conducting a review of all procedures," Cooke said at a news conference the day after the accident.

According to a preliminary report from the state Department of Labor, the rear of a Wake County ambulance had been raised on a jack while David Lee Champion, 33, was working under the vehicle.

The Grey brand pneumatic jack slipped from the ambulance's chassis, according to the report.

Wake County officials said the ambulance was not supported by jack stands.

It was unclear from the preliminary report whether it was the jack or the ambulance that struck Champion, said Neal O'Briant, a Labor Department spokesman.

Wake County paramedics who were also having their ambulance repaired were on the scene of the accident quickly and provided first aid until Champion was transported to WakeMed, where he died.

Champion had worked for the county for four years and was an experienced mechanic.

The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Division will continue to investigate the accident. The investigation could take several months, O'Briant said.

Wake County General Services Administration, at 401 Capital Blvd. on the northern edge of downtown Raleigh, is responsible for most of the county's vehicle maintenance.

Until Tuesday's accident, the Wake County General Services Fleet Management office had not had a serious safety violation for 13 years. Since 1995, the Capital Boulevard location has had only minor violations related to record-keeping and hand-washing stations.

"We've never found a serious violation there," O'Briant said.

The last time the Department of Labor received a complaint from the Capital Boulevard site was in January 1998. It resulted in no violations.

Champion had worked for Wake County for four years. He died at WakeMed.

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