Gary Forrest worked as a street crew member for Laclede Gas Company, but retired back in 2013. He knows of the potential dangers workers may face while responding to job sites.
Clinton Willis, 51, killed two Laclede Gas employees on Thursday, 27-year-old Alex Boschert and 52-year-old William Froelich. After Willis shot them, he killed himself.
Forrest knows the risks workers may find themselves with each call, especially in certain areas of the city.
"When I was out there we had those concerns many times," said Forrest, "Never had anyone approach me, but you'd always have somebody say, 'hey you got any change?' and you don't know what's coming up with that."
When Forrest first started working for Laclede Gas he said four people were sent to every job site
"One guy might be in the truck doing paperwork, but still we had another guy looking for the guy who was outside working."
However, about 7- 8 years ago, Forrest said it switched to two-man crews.
"And when they limited it to two, that took away, you know, the security."
Boshert and Froeich were the only two workers on site when the shooting happened. One of them was working in the ground on a gas line and the other on a back hoe when Willis shot them.
"[If] you're in a hole...you're in a hole, and that's when there's supposed to have someone watching you," said Forrest.
Maximizing the number of employees per job site is something Forrest wanted changed while he was still working for Laclede Gas.
"We had raised issues about that, not having enough people on the job to feel safe," said Forrest.
In a statement to News 4, Laclede Gas says all crews are back on the streets operating as normal in two-man crews. However, they say they are "reviewing situation awareness with employees on job sites and offered counselors to employees."
"You got to go out and do your job and hope for the best," said Forrest.
Full Laclede Gas statement to News 4:At Laclede Gas, safety is a value, not just a priority. There’s nothing more important than the safety of the men and women who go into neighborhoods and communities every day, working hard and giving their best to serve Laclede Gas customers. We are back to serving customers and communities today. Early this morning, we met with all field operations employees before they reported to their job sites. We talked through safety procedures and situational awareness. We answered questions, listened and encouraged employees to talk with counselors on site.
We are deeply grateful to the St. Louis community, and especially the community of utility workers, who have reached out to offer their love and support during this time.
Many have asked how they can support the families of Alex Boschert and Bill Froelich. With the help of United Way of Greater St. Louis, the Laclede Gas Workers Memorial Fund is now set up to accept gifts athttp://www.stl.unitedway.org/lacledegas. Please continue to hold the Boschert and Froelich families and their loved ones in your thoughts and prayers. As you know, they need our support today, and for a long time to come.
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