GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Public Schools worker who died after an on-the-job accident Tuesday was a 59-year-old man whom co-workers described as kind and hardworking, according to a Wednesday release from the district.

Mike DeLano, a member of the operations team, was using a riding lawn mower at the district’s Briggs Field athletic facility when the mower fell over a retaining wall, GRPS said. First responders tried to save his life, but DeLano ultimately died of his injuries Tuesday.

DeLano worked for GRPS for almost two years and was described by his supervisor, Brad Bennett, as someone who “would do anything for anybody.”

“He never quit smiling. He gave you 100% every day. … I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t have loved Mike,” Bennett said in a statement.

An undated photo of Mike DeLano, courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Schools.
An undated photo of Mike DeLano, courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Ronnie Sluiter, head secretary for the facilities and operations team, said in a statement that the loss left her “brokenhearted.”

“He was just such a sweet guy — a gentle giant,” Sluiter said. “I consider us a family. To me, it’s like losing a family member.”

GRPS said those who worked closely with DeLano did not work Wednesday, but some of them did come together for a meal. 

Dr. Leadriane Roby, the district’s superintendent, also visited DeLano’s family to give her condolences, according to the release.

“It is clear that he was a man who cared deeply for those he touched,” Roby said in a statement. “We were lucky to have him on our team, and I thank his family for sharing his talents with our scholars and the greater community.”

The Grand Rapids Police Department and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating, the district said.