Metro

Department of Public Works employee dies after crash

Robert Callery, a longtime city employee, was in the middle of his shift Thursday, when his Public Works truck crashed in Dorchester. The 65-year-old Braintree resident later died.

Authorities believe he might have suffered a heart attack, since there was no other vehicle involved in the crash.

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“It did appear that he had some type of a medical incident,’’ said Officer Rachel McGuire, a police spokeswoman.

His death was the first on-the-job death in the Department of Public Works that top officials could recall. His co-workers were stunned at the loss of their supervisor, friend, and father figure, said Public Works Deputy Commissioner Michael Brohel.

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“They are all feeling it,’’ he said.

Brohel said Callery — known as Cal — started working for the city 29 years ago, first as a “hokey,’’ a seasonal employee who walks the streets and cleans up the city “with a broom, dustpan and shovel.”

“He began with us in the Dorchester Ave. area — the area where he lost his life,’’ Brohel said.

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Callery grew up in Mission Hill/Roxbury and was a husband, father, and grandfather, who doted on his family and was a guiding figure to the men on his crew. He had been a supervisor for nearly a decade, Brohel said.

Callery worked the second shift, overseeing an eight- to 10-member team that works from 2:30 to 10 p.m. The crew responds to complaints that come through the city’s 311 hot line — such as potholes, dead squirrels, and overflowing trash bins.

Callery was based at the main facility on Frontage Road in the South End and often patrolled the city in his truck, officials said.

Callery was driving on Dorchester Avenue at 7:30 p.m. when he crashed at Columbia Road, Brohel said.

“I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it,’’ said Jack Dooley, who retired as a Public Works assistant superintendent two years ago and had known Callery since he was a teenager. “I was just at a union meeting Monday and I was asking a friend how he was doing. I hadn’t heard from him in a while.”

“He will be sorely missed,’’ said Jim Durkin, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, of which Callery was a member.

Councilor Timothy McCarthy, a former Public Works employee, also recalled Callery, saying “my heart goes out to his family and the Boston Public Works family.”

Meghan E. Irons an be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeghanIrons
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