SKOWHEGAN, Maine (From news reports) -- A Skowhegan man working for a contractor died suddenly last week at the Sappi paper mill, according to officials.
Chief David Bucknam of the Skowhegan Police Department said Monday, Feb. 13, that officers and rescue workers responded Feb. 6 to a call at Sappi. He said one of his officers reported George Cutten appeared to have suffered a heart attack, "but until the medical examiner's results come back, it's speculation."
The state Office of Chief Medical Examiner reported the cause of Cutten's death is "pending further studies," saying it will take several weeks for a toxicology report to come back.
Cutten, 64, was working at the mill for Hermon-based Sullivan & Merritt Inc., a heavy industrial construction company. He was a longtime member of the Laborers International Union Local 327, according to Lewis Overlock, business manager for the local.
When Cutten collapsed at work, a fellow laborer began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation until emergency workers arrived, according to Overlock, who said Cutten was dedicated to his teenage daughter and had planned to attend her basketball game that evening.
"He was a very nice guy," Overlock said. "He was very healthy, I can tell you that. He was an excellent worker."
He said he had been in touch with Cutten's family, although he was unaware if funeral arrangements had been made.
Jason Prosser, a Bangor-based compliance officer with the federal Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the law requires companies to report a work-related death within eight hours, but OSHA received no report of a death having occurred last week at Sappi.
"Federal OSHA was not notified," Prosser said Monday. "The Department of Labor will be investigating."
Calls made to Sappi and Sullivan & Merritt for comment were not returned.
Cutten was by all accounts an extremely hard worker.
In addition to being employed full time as a laborer, he was always doing projects on his own: building a second house in Cornville, managing apartments he owned, selling antiques at his property on Beech Street in Skowhegan.
"He was extremely healthy," said his longtime friend, Steven Garcia, of Skowhegan. "I took him to the doctor and his blood pressure was perfect. The guy was physically strong. I helped him build his home in Cornville. He said, 'I'm building this house for my daughter.' That, to me, is the spirit of George. He named the road to the house after her. He loved his daughter."
Garcia said it has been difficult not knowing what caused his death. Cutten had been an independent person all his life and had a big heart, according to Garcia.
"He was 250 pounds, solid as a rock, healthy," Garcia said." He tried so hard in life."