Propane delivery driver dies after being pinned under truck

KEENE — A propane truck driver died Friday after his truck rolled while making a delivery in Keene and he became pinned underneath a wheel.

State Police reported Monday that Daniel O. Mitchell, 62, was delivering for Suburban Propane to 95 Hulls Falls Road in Keene. He parked the truck and got out, but then it started to roll forward. He tried to stop it by placing a chock under the driver’s side rear wheel, but in the attempt he became pinned under the tire.

John and Paula Schuler live in that house but were not home at the time. John said he was at work at the Ausable Club, where he is general manager, and his wife was in Plattsburgh shopping.

She got home around 1:45 p.m. and found Mitchell trapped under the truck, John said. He had been there for more than an hour at that point.

“I think their (Suburban Propane) log showed he registered being on our driveway at around 12:30,” John said.

John said Paula called him at his office and he called 911 while she tended to Mitchell, trying to keep him warm. Temperatures topped out in the low 20s that day in Keene, according to Weather Underground.

Police said they were dispatched to the house around 2 p.m. and that Keene fire and emergency medical personnel extricated Mitchell from under the truck. They transported him to Elizabethtown Community Hospital, part of the University of Vermont Health Network. From there, Mitchell started to be transferred to the main UVM Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont, but his condition worsened en route, and he was rerouted to UVM’s Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh. At CVPH he succumbed to his injuries at 8:13 p.m.

Clinton County Coroner David Donah was contacted, and an autopsy was scheduled for Monday at CVPH. State Police said their investigation is continuing.

John Schuler said his driveway is flat and that he wasn’t sure why the truck started rolling.

“We feel for the family, and it’s a tragic loss,” he said. “And those first responders from Keene and Keene Valley Hose and Ladder No. 1, they all did an amazing job keeping him alert, holding his hand once they replaced my wife, staying with him. They didn’t let go of his hand the whole time they worked on him.

“Everyone, including me and my wife, would have liked to have had a save, and they did, up until they got him to the hospital,” he added. “I know that all of us, including the fire departments, feel a sense of loss.”

Mitchell lived in Peru and was a truck driver of long experience, according to his obituary in the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh. He drove for Werner Enterprises in Omaha, Nebraska, for 14 years and totaled nearly 2 million accident-free miles as a long-haul trucker. Mitchell then drove for Adirondack Energy for a decade before signing on with Suburban Propane.

He grew up in Burlington, Vermont, was a Navy veteran and loved fishing and the Boston Red Sox.

Suburban Propane spokesperson Nandini Sankara issued a statement on behalf of the company Monday afternoon.

“It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Daniel Mitchell on 1/25/19,” the statement said. “Dan was a dedicated employee since October 2016 and a valued member of the Suburban Propane family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Staff Writer Griffin Kelly contributed to this report.