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Man dies after fall at Potlatch Lumber Mill

BEMIDJI — A 23-year-old Grand Rapids man died after falling from a catwalk at Potlatch Lumber Mill on Saturday.

Mitchell Lee Harthan was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders, Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes said. The Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office is aiding the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration in their investigation of the death.

Pete Aube, manager of the lumber mill, said OSHA representatives were on site Monday conducting their investigation.

Harthan was doing maintenance on a conveyor while on the catwalk, a section of which fell 40 to 50 feet, according to a release from the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s just a terrible tragedy,” Aube said. “Our immediate focus is in support of a grieving family and keeping our workers safe.”

Paramedics and police were called to the facility, which is located at 50518 County Road 45, at 1:27 p.m., the release stated. Harthan was found unresponsive by fellow employees after the fall.

In an obituary posted on the Grand Rapids Herald-Review’s website, Harthan was remembered as loving “his job and the people he worked with,” as well as being a man who “loved to hunt and fish and spent days and hours doing both.”

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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