A beloved maintenance worker at a school in Melbourne’s southeast has been remembered as “kind” and “compassionate” after he died following a workplace accident at the school.
According to WorkSafe, 67-year-old Gerry Van Den Berg was on the roof of a building at Mentone Girl’s Secondary College (MGSC) when he fell 3m through a “metal grate structure” last Thursday.
He was taken to hospital but died the following day.
In a statement, school principal Linda Brown said Van Den Berg’s death was a “tragic accident”.
“Our friend and colleague loved working at MGSC, working with the students and staff and knowing that he made a difference to the people and students at the school,” she said.
“We express our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
Support has been made available for students and staff at the school.
Tributes on social media have poured in for the maintenance manager, who was remembered fondly by parents and students alike.
One parent wrote: “After our almost nine years with the MGSC community, our whole family is deeply affected by the loss of Gerry. Our kids only have great stories to share about him and his ways of showing kindness, especially to kids who seemed down and alone. I recall fondly a few entertaining conversations with him myself. The school grounds will never be the same.”
Others described Van Den Berg as a “vibrant character” who had a “kind, compassionate and beautiful heart”.
“He gave supportive advice when our daughter was completing Year 12 exams last year and we only saw him in Coles a few weeks back and he asked how she went and (said) that he was so proud of her for getting into Deakin and pursuing her dreams,” another parent wrote.
“Our other daughter came home from school just last week and laughed while telling us he was joking and teasing at the girls screaming as the storm front went through.”
WorkSafe is investigating the incident.
The death is the sixth confirmed workplace fatality in 2023.