‘Everybody’s in shock: Family of forklift operator killed in fall touched by tragedy again

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee County medical examiner on Tuesday, March 5 identified the victim of an elevator shaft fall near 37th and Wisconsin Avenue Monday -- Anthony Azarian, age 32. He was a forklift operator for Azarian Demolition/Wrecking out of Racine -- Anthony's father's company. The preliminary manner of death was ruled an accident.

"Everybody is in shock. My family is in mourning," said Sam Azarian, Anthony's brother.

Family told FOX6 News Anthony Azarian was professional and extremely experienced when it came to demolition jobs.

"When he was at work, he was always really safe," Sam Azarian said.

Anthony Azarian

Fatal fall near 37th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

Crews with Azarian Wrecking, along with Mid City were working to remodel the historic CH Coakley and Company building, built in 1928 -- restoring an old, sealed off freight type elevator to make it operational again. The medical examiner's report said Azarian was operating a forklift with a shovel attachment while attempting to remove a brick wall covering.

Fatal fall near 37th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

"You just don't see it happening to someone with this type of spirit," Sam Azarian said.

The forklift Anthony Azarian was operating began rocking and went over the edge of the elevator shaft and fell more than 80 feet. Azarian was extricated from the forklift by fire officials at the bottom of the elevator shaft -- and pronounced dead at the scene.

It was the skilled machine operator's first day on the job at this particular building.

"He was in a machine he had never been in before. God has his way planned with everybody. It's nothing that he did wrong," Sam Azarian said.

Fatal fall near 37th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

Anthony Azarian

It's not the first time the Azarian family has experienced a construction tragedy.

"My uncle passed away in the early 2000s. He was buried alive," Sam Azarian said.

Sam Azarian's uncle

Sam Azarian's uncle

Sam Azarian said his heartbroken family was focused on celebrating his brother's legacy.

"We'll embrace his life and the way he lived it because he was one heck of a dude," Sam Azarian said.

Sam Azarian

Azarian left behind two children, a 3-year-old and an infant.

The building, formerly owned by CH Coakley and Company was sold to another owner in 2017. According to the Coakley family, the new company was in the process of renovating the building to turn it into storage space. The building was part of the Coakley family since it was built in 1927. The family offered their condolences to the family of Anthony Azarian.

Azarian Wrecking

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