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Waste Aid worker still in hospital after accident

Jimmy Wade and Edfred Lontz had been working together about a week. They got along fine, Wade's relatives say, and worked well as a team at the Waste Aid dump site on Galen Wilson Boulevard.

But Tuesday afternoon, they got out of synch.

Lontz, 39, was operating a front-end loader used to dump recyclable aluminum cans. Wade, 25, apparently hopped onto the side of the trash bin, where he was struck by the loader and fell injured between two bins.

He was flown by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg for treatment of a head injury, according to a Pasco Sheriff's Office report.

On Wednesday, Wade was in serious but stable condition in Bayfront's neuro-intensive care unit, said hospital spokeswoman Marge Furches.

Relatives say they don't expect Wade to return home for at least a week. "Hopefully when he gets home he'll be okay," said Wade's mother-in-law, Rita Carter. "It's in God's hands now."

Carter said the family isn't angry at Waste Aid or Edfred Lontz. But she said she's sure Lontz must feel terribly guilty. "That poor man must feel like he's living a nightmare," she said.

Lontz declined comment Wednesday. But on Tuesday, he told deputies that he is the site manager and that he didn't know Wade had climbed onto the trash bin. No charges were filed against Lontz, records show.

Their boss, Tom Peterson, also declined comment.

Officials at the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said Waste Aid Systems didn't report the accident Tuesday or Wednesday.

But Bill Grimes, spokesman for OSHA's Tampa office, said Waste Aid isn't required to notify the agency unless an accident results in a fatality or more than five injuries. Grimes said OSHA probably will look into the accident within the week.