DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – This week, employees at Decatur Morgan Hospital have been celebrating the anniversary of its merger with Parkway Medical Center and Huntsville Hospital. Now, all employee celebrations have been called off.
Dwayne Atkins, 41, was a maintenance worker who had been employed at Decatur Morgan Hospital for more than a year. He died in an accident with a freight elevator on Wednesday evening at the hospital.
“This November the 30th, we would have been together 26 years,” said Dwayne Atkins’ wife, Terisa Atkins. “He’s my soul mate, my best friend.”
Terisa and Dwayne met when they were both students at Tharptown High School when she was 14 and he was 16.
After high school, Dwayne Atkins worked as a construction worker for his family’s business. Over a year ago, he started working as a maintenance man at Decatur Morgan Hospital.
Hospital staff told us Dwayne Atkins was not working on the elevator at the time of the accident, when he was trapped and crushed under it.
“There’s a tremendous amount of sadness and our thoughts go out to the family,” said hospital spokeswoman Leigh Hays. She says something obviously went wrong when he was working in the area of a freight elevator.
About the freight elevator, Hays said it was “used for deliveries and take-outs, back and forth and it’s not open to the public. We know he was not working on the elevator.”
Decatur Police call it an ongoing death investigation, but said nothing seems suspicious. Co-workers found Atkins’ body wedged between the ground and the bottom of the elevator on Wednesday evening.
Police say it appears the elevator came down on him. They’re now awaiting autopsy results to determine what else may have contributed to the incident.
Meanwhile, investigators contacted the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. The Alabama Department of Labor is also in town to take a look at that specific elevator involved. They told WHNT the certification on it was current.
“All of our elevators are inspected and up to inspection codes,” said Hays.
Results from the autopsy could take a couple of days.
“There’s a piece of him everywhere because he made friends everywhere he went. It would be to remember him as the person that he was. The best person in the world that would help anybody give his shirt off the back for anybody. It didn’t matter who they were. He was just amazing,” said Terisa Atkins.
Dwayne Atkins leaves behind his wife, three children, and two grandchildren.