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Natick town employee killed in ‘freak accident’

A longtime Natick town employee was killed and a second town employee was injured Tuesday night while both were participating in the emergency repair of a water line, an incident witnessed by four co-workers and a Natick police officer on a detail, officials said.

Town Administrator Martha White said the deceased employee worked for the town’s Department of Public Works for 26 years. Town officials identified him as Michael F. McDaniel Jr., a married father of a 9-year-old girl.

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Town officials identified the second worker as Scott M. Spurling, a DPW foreman who was rushed to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where his condition has been upgraded to stable.

White said the incident took place around 7:15 p.m. when six DPW members went to repair a water line break on West Street near the intersection with Redman Drive. She said the crew was working in the street, which led to deployment of the paid detail.

White said the incident is under investigation by State and Natick police and the state workplace safety agency. She declined to describe how McDaniel was killed.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office, which is also investigating, said “a backhoe was accidentally pulled forward, and the stabilizer of the backhoe struck two employees who were working in a trench,” fatally injuring McDaniel, 48.

The fatal incident was followed by Wednesday’s snowstorm, and White said that DPW workers who were at the scene were allowed to stay home, an offer most of the workers accepted. But the rest of the department had to return to work, supplemented by at least two Natick firefighters and snowplow drivers from surrounding communities.

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