Pittsburgh City Council president demanding answers about city worker who went missing on the job

PITTSBURGH — The president of Pittsburgh City Council is speaking out after an exclusive Channel 11 investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a city worker.

Channel 11 Chief Investigator Rick Earle broke the story that a city of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works employee had been abducted while on city time and in a city vehicle, but no one at the public works garage reported him missing.

RELATED COVERAGE >> 11 Investigates: City of Pittsburgh worker vanishes, public works truck abandoned

City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith told Channel 11 Chief Investigator Rick Earle that she had a lot of questions after his report.

Kail-Smith told Earle that she sent a letter to the Public Safety director demanding information about the case.

She wants to know what happened to the employee and why city council and the public were never notified about the incident.

She also wants to know if the city has a protocol in place to deal with a missing city worker and if that protocol was followed in this case.

Kail-Smith said she wasn’t aware of the case until contacted by Earle.

According to Pittsburgh Police, the worker’s city truck was found abandoned on a street in Lincoln-Lemington at 1:30 a.m., an hour after his wife reported him missing.

The wife told police she last saw her husband the previous morning at 5:30 as he was leaving for his job with the Department of Public Works.

“A city worker on city time with a GPS, and no notice to council or to the public, so for those reasons I wanted to make sure we were getting the right answers. What I’m trying to find out is what actually happened, and what responsibility we have as a city to make sure our employees are safe,” Kail-Smith said.

Earle broke the story after receiving a tip from a source and working for several weeks to confirm the information.

Earle’s investigation raised some troubling questions. Did anyone notice the employee hadn’t returned to the public works garage by quitting time? Why didn’t anyone report him missing?

“I want to know if there’s a protocol if a city worker is missing, if so, what is it? And have we followed that? If not, let’s put one in place now,” Kail-Smith said.

Last month, while investigating the case, Earle attempted to get some answers from Mayor Ed Gainey, but he didn’t want to discuss the case.

Earle: There was a worker abducted from his truck in Lincoln-Lemington. He was in a city truck on city time. Concerned about that?

Gainey:  No, I’m not going to discuss personnel issues.

Earle also spoke with Police Chief Larry Scirotto, who confirmed the victim had been severely beaten, but said the investigation stalled because the worker refused to cooperate.

Kail-Smith said the city should still be looking into the case.

“Even though he may not be able to cooperate, we should at least be checking the GPS, cameras in the area, talking to people who may have seen something,” Kail-Smith said,

She also said she had received several emails from city employees concerned about their safety.

Kail-Smith told Earle she’s still waiting for a response from the Public Safety director.

She said she did speak with Deputy Mayor Jake Pawlak and he assured her that there is an ongoing investigation into the case.

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