Azarian family experiences second fatal construction accident
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MILWAUKEE — Anthony Azarian of Azarian Wrecking was killed in a demolition accident in Milwaukee Monday afternoon when he and the skid steer he was operating fell down a seven-story elevator shaft.
The tragedy was an eerie reminder of the 2000 construction fatality that occurred when Azarian’s uncle, also an Anthony, died at the bottom of a 10-foot trench in Caledonia when it partially collapsed in on him.
Anthony D’Alie, a good friend of the family and in particular Anthony Azarian’s father, Sam Azarian, said Anthony, 31, of Caledonia, had been operating a skid steer inside a building located at 37th Street and Wisconsin Avenue where the company had been doing demolition for about a month. He was using the skid steer to pull on a wall when the wall gave way, and Azarian went down the elevator shaft from the top story with the skid steer and the wall.
D’Alie said Azarian — his godson — was killed instantly. The emergency call came in at 1:43 p.m.
Azarian’s death was made even more tragic by the fact that he had just had a son two days earlier with his fiancée.
While coping with the latest horror, the family is making funeral plans today, Tuesday, D’Alie said.
Azarian Wrecking is a longtime and well-known Racine business. More often than not, if demolition was being done in the Racine area, Azarian had the job. In recent years those projects included the razing of the former Westgate Cinema, the Park 6 building on Sixth Street and some early work at the would-be Machinery Row site.
D’Alie said he’s been friends with Sam, Anthony’s father, for about 50 years. The younger Anthony lived with D’Alie during his senior year while attending Waterford High School so he could wrestle on the same team as D’Alie’s son — yet another Anthony.
Echo of the past
Monday was the second time the Azarian family had experienced tragedy at a work site. In 2000, Sam ’s brother Anthony Azarian, then 40, also known as Tony, had gone to a site at Five Mile Road and Highway 32 to cap off a sewer lateral, according to Caledonia police. Reports said he called his secretary to tell her one side of the hole had collapsed.
A few minutes later, Azarian called someone from the sanitary district to come and inspect the capped sewer line.
When the sanitary district employee got out to the site shortly after 4 p.m., he found Azarian’s truck running, but couldn’t find him.
Tony’s body was eventually dug out by rescue personnel at the bottom of the 10-foot-deep trench with 5 feet of soil on top of him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
D’Alie said Tony was a neighbor and “as good a friend as I am with Sam.”
A visitation for Azarian is scheduled from 3-7 p.m. Sunday, with a remembering service, at Racine Bible Church, 12505 Spring St., Mount Pleasant.
A second visitation will be held from 9:30-11:15 a.m. Monday, with a memorial Mass at 11:30 a.m. at St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church, 1903 Green St., Racine.
MICHAEL BURKE firstname.lastname@example.org