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UAW member identified who was struck, killed by vehicle in Milan, Illinois

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A UAW Local 79 member was struck and killed walking to the picket line at John Deere Parts Distribution Center in Milan on Wednesday morning.

According to Milan Police, Richard Rich, 56, was struck and killed by a motorist as he walked to the picket line at John Deere Parts Distribution Center in Milan. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the UAW leadership, he was a 15-year employee of the Deere PDC.

“We didn’t want it to come to this,” said one Moline worker about the strike. “We are still trying to take it all in.”

Picketing was halted for the day at the Milan site, a union member said.

At the Milan gate intersection, streetlights have been out since the start of the strike, according to union workers, who feel this may have contributed to decreased visibility in the dark.

One union member, who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of retribution, called the Milan Municipal Building on Oct. 15 to report the outage. A Milan public official submitted a streetlight repair request that day to MidAmerican Energy Company for the intersection.

An Oct. 15 confirmation email from a MidAmerican customer service account said “standard completion time is three weeks; however, some orders may take longer to complete.”

Deere & Co. released a statement Wednesday morning, stating “we are saddened by the tragic accident and death of one of our employees” and are awaiting reports from law enforcement.

“All of us at John Deere express our deepest condolences to their family and friends,” the statement read.

The UAW also issued a press release on behalf of the national and Region 4 offices.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our brother who was reporting to the picket line. Our brother was fighting for what is right and we all mourn for his family and co-workers,” said Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4, in the release. “Through our tears, we continue to picket and honor the solidarity of our fallen brother. But we do this with heavy hearts today.”

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