KALISPELL – The investigation into the death of a Kalispell Walmart employee on Friday is looking at the time it took an ambulance crew to reach the victim, the area director of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration told the Missoulian on Wednesday.
Jeff Funke of OSHA said regulations require a workplace to have first aid response available within five minutes, and those that are not within five minutes of an ambulance or fire department are required to have employees who are trained to respond to medical situations.
Funke said an exact timeline of events has not yet been established. The investigation could take four to six months.
He confirmed that the victim, whose name has not been released, fell from a movable staircase in a storeroom, and not “a very tall ladder” as was first reported.
“The facts are he fell, not from a ladder, but from a movable staircase, and sustained injuries,” Funke said. “The period of time from when he fell, to when an ambulance crew arrived, we can’t give out a time on that yet. We can’t really say if it was 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 20 minutes. We are interviewing employees and management and zeroing in on that.”
Funke declined to comment on an unverified and anonymous report that another Walmart employee witnessed the fall. The Missoulian was contacted by a person who declined to give their name because they were unauthorized to speak about the incident, but identified themselves as a Walmart employee.
The person said reports that the victim was not discovered for 20 minutes were wrong. An employee witnessed the accident, they said, and that employee was joined by two more employees who stayed with the victim until an ambulance crew arrived.
“All the information we have is green, and has not been vetted yet,” Funke said, adding, “We give employees express confidentiality, and can’t reveal sources or details. We have talked to some, and will talk with everyone involved. Right now we have so much information, and different people see different things in these situations. That’s why we’re going to take all the information and sort it out, and until the investigation is complete, I can’t make a comment either way.”