Archive for Saturday, April 3, 2010

Men killed at MagnaGro: One a ‘hero,’ other was Iraq vet, loving son

April 3, 2010


One was a young Iraq War veteran.

Roy Hillebert

Roy Hillebert

The other, a family man, with four grandchildren.

On Thursday afternoon, the two men died as a result of an industrial accident at MagnaGro International, 600 E. 22nd St.

Brandon Price, 25, and Roy Hillebert, 51, were identified Friday by Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical authorities as the two men who were killed on the job at MagnaGro.

The identities of a third worker who was treated and released Thursday at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and a firefighter who was treated and released for a minor respiratory injury have not been released. Fire Chief Mark Bradford says he doesn’t believe the firefighter’s injury was a direct result of the plant incident.

Authorities haven’t said how they think the accident occurred, but John Smardo, Hillebert’s brother-in-law, says he died trying to save a life.

“Pretty much anything that anybody needed to be done, he’d help him do it,” Smardo said. “A great example: He gave his life trying to save someone else and you can’t ask anything more from a person.

“He actually died a hero trying to save another person.”

Hillebert, a classic-car aficionado, had two children and four grandchildren.

“He loved his children and he lived for his grandchildren,” Smardo said. “Basically that’s what he worked for, so he could do things with them and have fun with them.”

War veteran

Price graduated from Lawrence Alternative School in 2003 and then enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. He served a year in Iraq in 2004.

Brandon Allen Price

Brandon Allen Price

While in the Army he developed problems with alcohol and drugs, he told the Journal-World in a February 2006 article. Those problems caused him to be sent home, where he underwent treatment through the Army until he received an honorable medical discharge in 2005.

Price experienced hardships in adjusting to civilian life. He continued to be plagued by alcohol problems and also showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

In summer 2006, Price reconnected with his birth mother, Christine Reed. It was the first time they had seen each other since Reed divorced Price’s father eight years before.

Reed discovered her son after an Internet search uncovered the Journal-World’s February 2006 article.

“The first thing I said to him was, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you,’ ” Reed told reporter Mike Belt.

It is unclear what Price had done before going to work at MagnaGro. He had undergone counseling at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and had met with a church group.

Fatal accident at MagnaGro International

MagnaGro International will continue operations following an industrial accident that left two employees dead. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The Price family is reeling from the tragedy, his aunt Jamie Price said Friday.

“No parent expects to bury their 25-year-old son,” she said.

She described Brandon as a good friend.

“He was full of life, a quiet source, had a great love of God and family, and a great respect for his country,” his aunt said.

After reconnecting with his mother in 2006, Price continued to have a very strong relationship with her, Jamie Price said.


angel4dennis 5 years, 8 months ago

Condolences to the family and friends of this tragic ending for both these gentlemen. May they forever live in your hearts and minds.

Ronda Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for the well written article about these two gentemen. May their family and friends carry them lovingly in their hearts throughout. Wishing all of you comfort in this time of horrific sadness and loss. My prayers are with you.

jumpin_catfish 5 years, 8 months ago

Beyond sad, my heart and prayers go out to the families.

Dixie Jones 5 years, 8 months ago

our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of both men.

asbury 5 years, 8 months ago

My sincere condolances to the families of these men.

Deja Coffin 5 years, 8 months ago

Thinking of the families of both men. Prayers of peaces to all effected. I know the Eudora community is mourning the loss of a great guy and so many people are blessed to have known Roy.

jordanlea 5 years, 7 months ago

As his sister, Jordan Milliken, I want to thank everyone who took the time out of their day to read this article. Secondly, I would like to thank all of whom took the time to consider our family's loss. Brandon will be missed and we, as a family, recognize and thank you for your consideration and truly appreciate your comments and prayers. God bless.

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