‘Always a Big Part of Our Family,’ Ottumwa Mother Says of Son Who Died on the Job

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Christopher Ehrenhard was a son, father, uncle and construction worker from Ottumwa. In 2018, he was also part of a workplace incident that made him part of a group no one wanted him to join. Ehrenhard was one of the 26 Iowans who died on the job.

"You always knew when he came into a room," his mother Linda Ehrenhard said of her son, "He kind of lit up the place."

Her son died at the age of 37 last December due to an accident while working on a project in Marshalltown.

Workers' Memorial Day honored fallen workers during a ceremony in front of the Iowa Statehouse Monday.

"No one expects to see a loved one go off to work and not come back at the end of their shift," Division of Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts said to families gathered at the ceremony.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who greeted each family member in attendance of workers who died added her sympathies. "There are no words to remove the pain that comes with the loss of a loved one.  Grief sometimes is like the forces of Iowa’s powerful weather; it’s something that is experienced but not controlled," she said.

The ceremony program lists names of 26 Iowans who died on the job in 2018.

Each family has endured months of pain since a loved one died. Linda Ehrenhard said the ceremony honoring sons and daughters of other families who have been grieving helped to provide some comfort dealing with their shared experience. "They know how deep the pain is," she said, "It's not something you can describe."

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