Company under investigation after worker dies in fall
By Shavonne Potts
The N.C. Department of Labor is investigating the death of a Kannapolis man who died earlier this week at the Concord company where he worked.
Gary Donald Merrington, 47, of Oakwood Avenue, died Monday as a result of an accident at Guest Supply Company Inc.
“Based on the preliminary information, it appears the employee fell from a storage rack,” said Dolores Quesenberry, director of communications with the state Department of Labor.
Quesenberry could only confirm that the N.C. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division opened an investigation to determine the cause of the accident. She said investigations typically take three to four months, or longer depending on the complexity, to complete.
“Inspectors will interview witnesses if they exist and review company training records,” she said.
Investigators will also look at several factors, including whether a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health standards occurred.
Merrington was a warehouse supervisor at the company, which supplies lodging and hospitality products.
He worked at the company for nearly seven years.
Merrington and his wife, Jodi, have three daughters, Stephanie, 19, Jessica, 18, and Brittany, 16.
He served more than seven years with the U.S. Army. He met his wife of 21 years in Colorado while he was stationed in Denver. Merrington was a sergeant in the military.
“He was truly dedicated to his three girls and wife,” said Allen Merrington, Gary’s brother.
Gary was the middle child of three. A sister, Doneice, is the oldest.
“Everywhere he went, he excelled. He was a hardworking family man. He lived for his family,” Allen said.
The two brothers worked together in many facets of their lives, including running a restaurant together.
Allen and Gary had a painting business.
Allen, who is pastor of a church in Landis, recalled working alongside his brother early on in his ministry at Britthaven Nursing Home.
“He was a good speaker. He was really faithful,” Allen said.
The brothers, along with other family members, held church services at the Kannapolis nursing home for almost 10 years.
Gary and his wife, Jodi, also served as youth leaders at Allen’s church and Gary taught Sunday school.
Gary and his family began attending Hickory Grove Church in Charlotte. Working on weekends forced Gary to miss some Sunday services, his brother said.
Gary attended Concord High School, Pikes Peak Community College and Liberty University.
His brother didn’t recall Gary playing sports in high school or college, but he sure did love baseball with the American Legion Post 51 team in Concord.
“He was the athletic one and I wasn’t,” Allen said.
Allen’s son, Steven, also noted his uncle’s ability to play sports.
Gary and Steven used to hang out and play basketball. And part of the Merrington’s family tradition was playing football every Thanksgiving.
“My best memories are hanging out playing sports,” Steven said.
Steven was close to his uncle. He even worked with his father and uncle at their painting business.
“He was very easy going,” Steven said.
Gary was good to have a conversation with, he said.
“It was a tragic accident. He will be missed,” Steven said.
The family will receive friends today from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at Whitley’s Funeral Home.
A spokesperson said officials with Sysco Guest Supply where the corporate office is located in New Jersey, were all enroute to this area and could not readily be reached for comment.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.