Teen worker killed at Missouri recycling park was sophomore at Lee’s Summit High School

Students and families in the Lee’s Summit High School community learned Thursday night that the teenage worker killed earlier in the day at a recycling center was one of their own.

“It is with deep sorrow that we are reporting the death of Will Hampton, a sophomore member of our Tiger Family, in a tragic accident this morning,” Principal Kari Harrison wrote in a message to the community.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Will’s family during this difficult time,” Harrison wrote. “We also offer condolences to all Lee’s Summit High School students and staff members, especially Will’s classmates, teachers and support staff.”

Police on Friday identified the victim as William M. Hampton of Lee’s Summit. Initially, police had reported that Will was 17, but on Friday said he was 16.

Will was killed when he was pinned between a semi and its trailer about 10 a.m. at the the Lee’s Summit Resource and Recovery Park at 2101 SE Hamblen Road in Lee’s Summit, which is near Lee’s Summit Animal Control. He was taken to a trauma center, where he was pronounced dead.

The city partnered with Rody Taylor, owner of KC Dumpster Company LLC of Lee’s Summit, to operate the recycling park when the city’s landfill reached capacity and closed in April 2019.

KC Dumpster has a two-year contract with Lee’s Summit at the Resource Recovery Park,
KC Dumpster has a two-year contract with Lee’s Summit at the Resource Recovery Park,

The center reopened on Friday, a city spokeswoman said. A person who answered the phone at the recycling center Friday declined to comment on the worker’s death.

Hampton appears to have been just old enough to legally work at the center as state law for employment in hazardous professions is laxer for minors 16 years and older.

In Missouri, child labor laws restrict minors under age 16 from being in certain fields of employment deemed hazardous. Examples include foundries, quarries, saw mills and, more broadly, any other place where life or limb are at risk. Those under 14 years of age may not work in professions other than agriculture, entertainment, or casual jobs.

On Friday, the high school made counselors available for the school community at Pleasant Lea Elementary School, 700 SW Persels Road, to help students and staff grieve. Harrison, the high school principal, urged parents that if they have concerns about their children’s reactions to the loss to contact the high school so the administrative team could provide assistance.

Also on Friday, a Chicago spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation with the teen’s employer. The company has no previous history of violations, said Rhonda Burke, deputy director of public affairs for the Labor Department.

Police are classifying the teen’s death as a fatal motor vehicle accident on private property. The Lee’s Summit Police Department traffic unit is investigating the incident and investigators planned to reconstruct the scene and gather evidence.

The Star’s Bill Lukitsch contributed to this report.