One was a young Iraq War veteran.
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.
Read more about the MagnaGro accident
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.