Kent man killed on the job to be honored at L&I ceremony

Thomas Lorezca, 40, was fatally shot last year in Spanaway after showing up to do plumbing work

Thomas Lorezca. COURTESY PHOTO, Lorezca family

Thomas Lorezca. COURTESY PHOTO, Lorezca family

A 40-year-old Kent man, fatally shot while on the job last year in Spanaway, will be among the 129 workers honored at the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) Worker Memorial Day Ceremony in Tumwater.

This year’s state observance is at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 27 at L&I’s headquarters building in Tumwater.

Thomas M. Lorezca, a plumber for Beacon Plumbing and Mechanical, had been hired by a man in the 1000 block of Military Road East in Spanaway. On May 23, 2022, Lorezca was in the driveway of the home to make the plumbing repair when the man reportedly fired shots into Lorezca’s truck and killed him, according to a report of the incident by KOMO news. He died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Pierce County prosecutors charged 55-year-old Jacques Dothard with first-degree murder and unlawful possession of firearms, according to Pierce County Superior Court records. Dothard has a trial scheduled for July 10, 2023 although the trial date has been pushed out several times.

Dothard reportedly told Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies hat Lorezca had hit his gate when he arrived for the call.

Lorezca was a lifelong resident of Kent, according to his obituary posted online by Greenwood Memorial Park & Funeral Home in Renton. He graduated from Kentridge High School in 2000. He was a devoted son and an avid car enthusiast. He was a jack of all tradesmen, a problem solver who often took on many difficult projects at work or around the house.

He is survived by his parents Nelson and Crispina Lorezca); three brothers; his sister-in-law and nephew. He was born Oct. 28, 1981.

L&I also will honor another Kent resident who died on the job. Doyle G. Klemetsen, 67, was a construction superintendent who died Dec. 18, 2021 from a medical complication, according to L&I.

Others from across the state to be honored include a firefighter who died after years of chemical exposure on the job, a construction worker buried by a trench collapse, a security guard killed when a vehicle crashed through his booth and a home health care worker who was shot and killed by the grandson of his patient.

Surjit S. Gill, 36, was the man buried by a trench collapse on Sept. 7, 2022 in Renton. He was a construction worker for AAA Contractors, of Kent. L&I fined the company more than $400,000 for safety violations that led to the death of Gill.

L&I inspectors determined Gill had been working in a trench 18 to 20 feet deep at a new housing development near Northeast 38th Street and Lincoln Avenue Northeast. No one had inspected the trench for safety before the worker entered, and the shields installed were inadequate for the soil type and depth, according to a L&I news release. Employees inside the trench also did not have a safe way of getting out.

Speakers at the ceremony will include Gov. Jay Inslee, L&I Director Joel Sacks, and representatives from the Washington State Labor Council and the Association of Washington Business and Kids’ Chance Washington. People are invited to attend in person and the event will be streamed live.

Ninety-four of the workers being remembered during the ceremony died in 2022. The remaining 35 died before last year and were not included in previous ceremonies.

“Job-related injuries and deaths are a sobering reminder of the importance of workplace safety,” Sacks said. “This ceremony is a recommitment of government, business and labor to do everything possible to increase safety in every business and on every job site. No one should have to endure losing a friend, family member or loved one at work.”

Construction continues to be the most dangerous industry, claiming 32 lives, according to L&I. That’s 10 more than the previous year. Exposure to toxic chemicals and jobs that require driving were also connected to numerous workplace deaths, with 26 and 19 fatalities, respectively. Thirteen workplace deaths were from COVID-19 in 2022. On-the-job homicides rose sharply, from four in 2021 to 11 in 2022.

“The best way to honor fallen workers is to focus on preventing these tragedies from happening in the first place—to encourage employers and workers to ‘walk the talk’ by creating a workplace culture centered around safety,” Sacks said.

During the ceremony, the names of the workers who died will be read, accompanied by bell ringers from the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters. After the ceremony, families are invited to ring the brass bell in the Worker Memorial garden on the grounds of L&I’s headquarters.

This is the 30th time L&I has held the Worker Memorial Day ceremony. It’s one of many events in April honoring fallen workers across the nation.

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