In wake of safety manager’s death, California construction company continues to pay his salary; coworkers raise $120k to support family

Updated Jul 25, 2014
A Van Why family photo taken during one of their frequent outdoor trips.A Van Why family photo taken during one of their frequent outdoor trips.

A construction company in Milpitas, California is honoring a former employee by making sure his family is well taken care of after a tragic accident took his life more than five months ago.

Lindsey Van Why, a 42-year-old husband and father to two young boys, was killed in a skiing accident on February 14 in Lake Tahoe, according to a report from the San Jose Mercury News. Van Why worked as a safety engineer for eight years at XL Construction Corp. before becoming safety manager at the company’s concrete subsidiary, Bradley Concrete.

Neil Netzer, president of Bradley Concrete, said Van Why’s death personally devastated him. He said his compassion for others made him not just “the perfect candidate for the job” of safety manager, but also a great family man and person.

“That was his top priority at work,” Netzer told the Mercury News. “… Lindsey cared about other people. … Lindsey was the epitome of a family man. When he wasn’t working, he was spending time with his family.”

After hearing about the accident, XL’s human resources director Jerry Harmon immediately contacted Van Why’s wife to ask how the company could help. Since then the company has made several contributions that speak not only to its culture but to the type of impact Van Why had on those around him.

First, the company decided it would continue to pay Van Why’s salary to his family up to 14 months after his death. Then XL set up a college fund for Van Why’s sons, 10-year-old Tanner and 5-year-old Cooper. In total, company employees raised about $120,000 toward the college fund and to help pay Van Why’s salary.

But that’s not all. At the time of his death, Van Why was in the middle of remodeling his family’s home. Because he was doing all the work himself, the house sat empty and unfinished after he died. But XL and Bradley came through again with between 30 and 40 employees donating their money and materials as well was working each weekend for a month to finish the renovation.

Van Why’s wife, Robin, wrote a letter to thank the XL and Bradley employees, saying, â€śIf I was able, I would personally say thank you to each and every person so they could understand how much your outpouring for Lindsey has meant to us as his family. We know he was truly loved by his work family, as much as he was loved by us. … He would be so amazed at how you all have rallied together to help make his family’s well-being a priority.”