Custodian recovering after falling through school roof

A custodian was injured while clearing snow off of the roof at Smithfield High School. (Photo: Andy Paskowski / WPRI 12)

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — A custodian clearing snow from the roof of Smithfield High School was rushed to the hospital Wednesday morning.

Police in Smithfield say the accident happened around 8:30 a.m. The custodian is being identified as 56-year-old Joyce Ducharme.

According to police, Ducharme was on the roof shoveling off drains with co-workers when she stepped on a skylight and fell approximately 15 feet down into a classroom.

Fire Chief Robert Seltzer said that she was found “on a tiled over concrete floor basically lying on her back.”

Smithfield School Superintendent Robert O’Brien said she did not see the skylight because of the amount of snow on the roof.

“There was a fair amount of snow. we could see up through the skylight in that area and there was probably a good 12 to 18 inches in that area. which i can understand the skylight being covered over,” Seltzer said.

The Superintendent described the skylight as a plastic bubble, which was buried in snow and said that the custodians would have known where the skylights were on the building.

Ducharme was taken to Rhode Island Hospital with back and head injuries that are not life-threatening.

O’Brien said that there is a plan to replace the roof of the school this summer and that it will not have any skylights.


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