Man killed in forklift accident at Virginia Home Depot, police say

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A Home Depot employee was killed in a workplace accident early Tuesday morning when the forklift he was operating fell over, authorities said.

The incident happened just after midnight at a store on Merrilee Drive, according to the Fairfax County Police. The worker, identified as Paul Gato, 43, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities said Gato "was operating the forklift unloading supplies from a delivery truck" when it fell, trapping him.

"The driver of the delivery truck heard the loud crash, noticed the deceased under the forklift and immediately summoned emergency medical services and police," a police press release stated.

"At this time, detectives determined that there is no indication of criminal activity. The investigation is still active, and our detectives are working with officials from the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Administration," police said.

Gato, of Woodbridge, was a longtime employee of Home Depot.

"Paul was a happy, friendly and caring person who was always there when someone needed a hand," a company spokesperson said Tuesday. "We’re heartbroken by the loss of our friend and fellow associate of nine years, and his family is in our prayers."

Detectives and other police were on the scene to investigate the death.

This year, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration has investigated 15 fatalities involving a forklift in at least 10 states.

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