A city employee killed Wednesday in a snow removal accident was a Buffalo housing inspector for many years before taking on a new role a couple years ago in the Department of Public Works, Parks & Streets.
City officials on Saturday identified him as Michael L. Muscarella, 67.
Muscarella died while conducting snow-removal operations in South Buffalo following a massive storm that dumped up to 80 inches of snow in parts of Western New York.
He was hit by a high lift removing snow near McKinley Parkway and Columbus Avenue in South Buffalo.
City officials, who said they withheld the identity of the victim until his family could be notified, released Muscarella's name Saturday afternoon.
Former Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra described Muscarella as a dedicated public servant who was passionate about the work he did on behalf of residents.
People are also reading…
“He was a kind man, (with) a very big heart, and very loyal,” said Giambra, a friend of Muscarella's since their teen years.
Muscarella grew up on the West Side and attended Cardinal Dougherty High School. He worked briefly for his father’s exterminating company, Ashland Pest Control, and later as executive director of West Side Neighborhood Housing Services. Most of his public employment was with the city, except for a couple of years when he served as Erie County deputy commissioner of buildings and grounds during part of the Giambra administration.
Giambra said Muscarella was a skilled craftsman and very handy with carpentry, electrical work and plumbing. He worked for many years as a building inspector until moving into public works about two years ago, Giambra said.
“Whatever he was asked to do, he took it pretty seriously,” Giambra said. “He talked about retiring a few times in the last two years, but it was just talk. He really enjoyed his job.”
A preliminary investigation by Buffalo police found that the high lift hit the city worker while moving in reverse. A contractor hired by the city to help with snow removal was operating it and had just dumped a load of snow into a dump truck, Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said.
“It was shocking when I got that call Wednesday,” Giambra said. “The last I heard was that he had slipped on the ice and wasn’t able to get up fast enough.”
Muscarella was pronounced dead at the scene. The police commissioner said the high-lift operator is cooperating fully with investigators from the police department's Accident Investigation Unit.
Survivors include his wife, Carolyn; two sons, Christopher and Daniel; and a brother, Donald.
A Mass of Christian Burial was set for 10 a.m. Dec. 3 at St. Joseph Cathedral, 50 Franklin St.