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Coroner: West Dundee construction worker died of suffocation

Fundraiser set for family of man killed in Geneva Commons accident

Donald J. Tentler, 47, of West Dundee, died Feb. 3 while attempting to install a sign at Geneva Commons. A YouCaring campaign has been established for the father of two.
Donald J. Tentler, 47, of West Dundee, died Feb. 3 while attempting to install a sign at Geneva Commons. A YouCaring campaign has been established for the father of two.

GENEVA – A preliminary autopsy report shows that a worker who was killed in a tower at the Geneva Commons shopping center Friday was suffocated by being pinned between the crane he was in and the tower itself, Kane County Coroner Rob Russell said.

“He died of compression asphyxiation due to the mechanical compression of his neck,” Russell said of the Tuesday preliminary autopsy results. “There was no broken neck. There was nothing that was crushed. His airway was pinched off between the cherry picker and an actual part of the tower. We are awaiting toxicology, but this is an accidental death.”

A YouCaring campaign has been started to support the family of Donald J. Tentler, 47, of the 600 block of South Seventh Street, West Dundee. Tentler died while trying to install a sign in the parking lot tower at the Geneva Commons shopping center.

Fire and rescue workers responded at 11:48 a.m. Friday for a rescue from the central bell tower at the open-air shopping center, according to a news release.

Tentler had been working in the tower and had become trapped between a crane and the tower, said Geneva Police Chief Eric Passarelli, who was on the scene with first responders.

Two other construction workers were on the scene, but no other injuries were reported, the release stated.

The incident remains under investigation by the Geneva Police Department, Kane County Coroner’s Office and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

According to Tentler’s Facebook page, he started working for Identity Services – an Addison-based installation, maintenance and manufacturing company – in 2013.

Tentler’s sister-in-law, Karen Fitzsimmons of Geneva, wrote in a Facebook message that Tentler was a Cubmaster for his 7-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop and was actively involved in the Wounded Warrior Project – a charity and service organization that offers a variety of programs for wounded veterans.

“He was active with his church community, St. Catherine [Catholic Church] in West Dundee,” Fitzsimmons wrote. “He was a wonderful father and husband, and one of the kindest-hearted people I have ever met. His personality was so wonderful. If you needed help with anything, Don would be the first person there.”

Fitzsimmons added that Tentler could be seen marching in his troop leader uniform and riding his motorcycle in parades in St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia annually for charities.

“The family is so thankful for the kind, respectful way the first responders showed us so much respect and love,” she wrote. “They were so wonderful and respectful of Don. We will be forever grateful. … Through this horrible tragedy we have felt so much love and support …”

Tentler’s daughter is 1 year old, Fitzsimmons said. The family is working on memorial arrangements, she wrote.

• Brenda Schory contributed to this report

How to help

YouCaring page for Donald J. Tentler family: shawurl.com/tentler.

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