Kenosha rugby team mourns loss of player killed in Illinois workplace accident

Friends of a Kenosha-area man who died in a workplace accident this week are remembering him as lively and tough. 

22-year-old Brett Morrow of Gurnee, Illinois, died on the job after becoming trapped in a manhole in the Chicago suburb of Streamwood on Wednesday. 

Werner graduated from St. Joseph's Catholic Academy in Kenosha in 2013. 

"He was just a phenomenal, phenomenal gentleman and you couldn’t ask for a better friend," said Kyle Wroblewski, who was a classmate of Morrow's. "He always had this big smile on his face." 

Morrow was part of a construction crew working to install lining in a sanitary sewer system. His Facebook page indicates he worked for Benchmark Construction, which had been working to clean out and re-line the storm sewer system in Streamwood for several days. 

Authorities said Morrow was roughly 30 feet into the pipe when he became trapped shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday. 

Firefighters crawled down the roughly two foot-wide pipe, but couldn't initially reach Morrow because of a "large quantity of hardened lining material" blocking the pipe, officials told NBC Chicago. 

First responders used saws to cut the blockage away and clear a path to Morrow, but he was found to be deceased. It took hours to break through the hardened lining in the pipe. 

When Morrow wasn't working, he enjoyed rugby. He played for the Kenosha Mammoths Rugby Football Club.

His teammates, like John Slupik, remember him as tough and scrappy. 

"He was as small as they come, but he didn't care about taking on the biggest guys," Slupik said. 

Slupik and Morrow played together for the Mammoths, as well as on the rugby team at UW-Parkside. 

"I was just glad to be able to meet him," Slupik said. "He was definitely a genuine guy, and it’s hard to find people like him." 

Robbie DeGrazio, another one of Morrow's teammates with the Mammoths, said the squad gathered on Thursday night to remember him and celebrate his life. 

"He's irreplaceable," DeGrazio said of Morrow, who played various positions all over the field. 

"It’s like losing a family member," he added. "Especially on a rugby team, it’s just a brotherhood, and he was a brother to all of us. It’s pretty hard." 

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now investigating Morrow's death. 

Morrow's friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help cover his funeral expenses. To visit it, click here. 

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