GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (GRPS) - The Grand Rapids Public Schools has identified the operations team member who died following an accident on the job Tuesday afternoon.
Mike DeLano, 59, died after suffering injuries in an accident on a riding lawn mower. The preliminary review shows that Mr. DeLano was mowing grass surrounding the field when the mower he was operating fell over a retaining wall.
Witnesses and first responders attempted to help Mr. DeLano but efforts to save his life were not successful. The Grand Rapids Police Department and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration are conducting full evaluations of what occurred.
Mr. DeLano worked for GRPS for nearly two years. His colleagues describe him as a kind man whose pleasant disposition and humor made him a joy to be around.
“That man would do anything for anybody. He never quit smiling. He gave you 100% every day…I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t have loved Mike. He was just that kind of guy,” said Brad Bennett, who was Mr. DeLano’s supervisor. “Mike loved to mow… He was so proud of everything that he did. When he got done he loved to show it off.”
“There’s certain people that you look forward to seeing… He was always in a good mood,” said John Schutz, a painter on the GRPS facilities team. “He kind of led me to believe that this was the best job he had ever had… He was super proud to be working here.”
Work paused Wednesday for those who worked closest with Mr. DeLano though many of them came together to have a meal together and comfort one another.
“He was just such a sweet guy — a gentle giant,” said Ronnie Sluiter, the head secretary for the facilities and operations team. “I consider us a family. To me it’s like losing a family member. I’m broken hearted that we lost him. I’m thankful I got the opportunity to know him.“
Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby visited with the DeLano family to offer her support and condolences.
“My heart breaks for Mike’s beautiful and loving family. They are hurting and we are doing all we can to ensure they have all of the support and resources they need during this difficult time. From talking to them and his teammates at GRPS it is clear that he was a man who cared deeply for those he touched,” Dr. Roby said. “We were lucky to have him on our team and I thank his family for sharing his talents with our scholars and the greater community.”
Funeral services have been set for Tuesday, September 26 at O'Brien Gerst Funeral Home. Details can be found in the online obituary.