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Union worker hit, killed by car while walking to picket line in Milan identified

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 8:00 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 3:24 PM CDT
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MILAN, Ill. (KWQC) - A UAW member who was hit and killed by a car as he was walking to the picket line at John Deere Parts Distribution Center Wednesday morning has been identified as 56-year-old Richard Rich.

Rock Island County Coroner Brian Gustafson said preliminary autopsy results indicate the Moline man died from multiple traumatic chest injuries.

“It does not appear at this time that excessive speed was a factor in this tragic accident,” Gustafson said. He said the investigation remains open and active with the Milan Police Department.

At 6:02 a.m. Wednesday, Milan officers responded to the intersection of the Rock Island Milan Parkway and Deere Drive for a person hit by a car. Police say the initial investigation shows Rich was crossing the Rock Island Milan Parkway at Deere Drive.

Brian Rothenberg, director of public relations for UAW International, confirmed that Rich was a member of Milan Local 79 and worked at the facility for 15 years.

According to Rothenberg, the man was hit while walking to the picket line.

Read the full statement:

UAW members mourned the death today of a 56-year-old member of Milan, Ill, Local 79, who was a 15-year employee at the Milan John Deere Parts Distribution Plant in Moline, Ill. He was struck in a traffic accident and fatally injured while walking to the picket line.

“On behalf of the UAW and all working families, we mourn the passing of our UAW brother,” said Ray Curry, UAW President. “It is a somber time to lose a member who made the ultimate sacrifice in reporting to picket for a better life for his family and coworkers.”

The UAW will adhere to the policy to withhold the member’s name until family members are notified and decide to release their loved one’s information.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our brother who was reporting to the picket line. Our brother was fighting for what is right and we all mourn for his family and co-workers,” said Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4. “Through our tears, we continue to picket and honor the solidarity of our fallen brother. But we do this with heavy hearts today.”

UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, director of the Agriculture Implement Department said, “We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of our Brother. Our most sincere condolences go out to his family and his co-workers and they are all in our thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time. The entire UAW mourns today.”

Curry said the UAW flag will fly at half-staff in honor of our fallen brother.

Deere & Co. released the following statement:

We are saddened by the tragic accident and death of one of our employees who was struck by a vehicle before dawn this morning while crossing the Rock Island Milan Parkway. All of us at John Deere express our deepest condolences to their family and friends.

We have no further details as we await reports from law enforcement.

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