People give items to thrift stores for a variety of reasons. Some want the tax write off. Some want to help others and clean their closets at the same time. It’s safe to assume a fatal workplace accident is not the goal of the typical donation, but that’s what happened recently at an Illinois thrift shop.
A 54-year-old Illinois woman lost her life when a gun that was left in clothing donated to the thrift shop at which she worked discharged without warning. The woman and a coworker were sorting clothing that had been donated. The coworker said he came across a sock that contained something hard so he emptied it into his hand to see what it was. It was a small handgun.
The gun discharged accidentally. The woman suffered a chest wound and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. She died there within an hour of arrival, according to reports.
The woman’s family members said she had worked at the thrift store for at least 25 years. She had recently earned a promotion for her longevity with the company. She was married and had two children — a teenage daughter and an adult son.
The accident is under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. No charges have been filed by police, who referred to the fatal workplace accident as a tragic accident. The accident was indeed a tragedy for both the victim and her surviving family, who retain the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for death benefits. A successful claim could provide restitution that covers any medical expenses and compensates for income lost because of this unexpected tragedy. Moreover, the family may choose to pursue a wrongful death claim based on claims of negligence against the individual who donated the clothing with a loaded weapon concealed in it.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, Worker at thrift stores dies when gun in donated clothes goes off, Tina Sfondeles and Jordan Owen, March 14, 2014