The Medford man killed Wednesday morning after he fell from the back of a Lindenhurst garbage truck was the village's longtime horticulturist who had volunteered to assist sanitation crews during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
Jonathan Kehoe, 59, of Medford, a village employee for 35 years, had offered to work with sanitation crews, which have had rotating and revolving schedules because of the pandemic, according to Lindenhurst Village attorney Gerard Glass.
"John was assigned to drive and left the yard behind the wheel," Glass said. "He was a stand-up guy. Even though he was not supposed to work the back of the truck, he switched with one of his younger co-workers during the route to do his fair share. We are all devastated."
Kehoe was trained to work on the truck and had helped sanitation crews periodically over the years, officials said.
Shortly after 9 a.m., with the truck in reverse on South Fourth Street, near Third Avenue, Kehoe fell off the vehicle, which was driven by John Ciero, 37, of Lindenhurst, Suffolk police said. Kehoe was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip where he was pronounced dead.
“The Village of Lindenhurst sadly mourns the loss of longtime respected horticulturist John Kehoe," according to a statement from Lindenhurst Mayor Michael Lavorata, Highway Superintendent Rick Sorrentino and the village board of trustees. "John dedicated himself to beautifying and improving the village for 35 years. His soft-spoken style, knowledge and willingness to serve and help others will be sorely missed by all."
The Suffolk County Police Motor Carrier Safety Section performed a safety check on the vehicle, officials said.