North / South America
Head injury caused death of Granite Rock CEO Bruce Woolpert
Jul, 17 2012
(WATSONVILLE, California) -- Placer County sheriff’s deputies said Tuesday that an accidental drowning killed Bruce Woolpert, the 61-year-old CEO of Granite Rock Co.
Results from a coroner’s autopsy and details from a Sheriff’s Office investigation also were released this week.
Woolpert was on a power boat near North Lake Tahoe about 2:30 p.m. June 24 when he dropped off his son off at a dock, said Sgt. David Hunt. Alone, Woolpert drove the powerboat to a buoy where he tied it up in 30-45 mph northwest winds. Waves were running 3-4 foot high as he prepared to get into a 9-foot dinghy.
“The waves were wild out there and it was windy,” said Hunt.
Although there were no witnesses, an investigation concluded that Woolpert fell and hit his head either on the powerboat or his untied dinghy. He landed in the water.
About 3:15 p.m., a woman in a North Shore condominium spotted Woolpert’s dinghy drifting with no one in it about 200 feet from the powerboat. She then spotted Woolpert, who was floating face down in the water.
Woolpert washed against rocks near the shore. The woman called 911.
North Lake Tahoe firefighters found Woolpert in about 2 feet of water. They declared him dead at the scene, Hunt said.
Woolpert had a visible head injury, which led investigators to believe that he struck his head on one of the boats.
Hunt said Woolpert was not wearing a life jacket, but he doubted that it would have saved him because he was floating face down.
“It appears, in its entirety, to be an accidental drowning,” Hunt said.
Woolpert, a Watsonville native, was president of the Wastonville-based construction firm now known as Graniterock. He was the grandson of Arthur Roberts Wilson, who founded the family-owned Granite Rock Co. in 1900.
Community leaders called Woolpert’s loss a blow to the construction materials industry and to the public because Woolpert was an ardent supporter of students and charities in Santa Cruz County.
A memorial service was held on June 30 in Saratoga.
“It was very well attended by the community,” Graniterock chairman and acting CEO Mark Kaminski said Tuesday.
“There were a lot of Graniterock employees and people in the community that Bruce had really touched. It was a great outpouring of support for the family,” Kaminski said.
Woolpert is survived by his children, Arthur and Marianne, his brother Steve and wife Rose Ann.
Kaminski said he started to work with Woolpert in the 1980s. In 1992, he and Woolpert won the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, the nation’s highest honor for business excellence. Fortune Magazine also listed Graniterock on its annual 100 Best Places to Work.
“We’ve lost a great American and a great friend,” Kaminski said.
Several employees wrote memorial posts for Woolpert on the Grainterock website. They said he had a great sense of humor, cared a lot about his employees and always gave people his full attention.
Kaminski added that Woolpert was “committed to the community and the public school system.”
The Woolpert Family Foundation is involved in several educational projects with Pajaro Valley schools. In its Algebra Academy program, for instance, Cal State Monterey Bay professors teach about 50 Rolling Hills Middle School eighth- graders during a week of intensive study.
Donations can be sent to the Woolpert Family Foundation online at graniterock.com.
By Stephen Baxter - Santa Cruz Sentinel
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