FACTORYVILLE — Steven Swift was more than just an employee to the borough, according to Factoryville Mayor Gary Evans. He was a friend to many.
“While we will need to find people to do the work that he did, he’s not replaceable,” the mayor said of the maintenance manager and sewer plant operator killed in an explosion while using heavy equipment Monday evening on borough property in neighboring Clinton Township, Wyoming County.
Swift, 43, was operating heavy equipment while conducting a controlled burn at approximately 6:30 p.m. Monday at a Factoryville Borough shed, when an explosion occurred, resulting in his death, according to a Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) report.
Wyoming County Deputy Coroner Alan Thatcher said an autopsy was performed Tuesday.
“It appears it was caused by a can of gas that somehow got into the burning rubble, and he died of multiple traumatic injuries from that explosion,” Thatcher said.
The explosion, which is under investigation by the PSP fire marshal, was heard in several neighboring municipalities.
Evans said his heart goes out to Swift’s wife, Sue, and their two children.
“He was a non-stop worker for the borough. He was an incredible guy. He worked hard, worked smart and, if he had to work seven days a week, he worked seven days a week. He was more than an employee.”
According to Swift’s obituary, published by the Litwin Funeral Home, the 1993 Lackawanna Trail High School graduate was employed with the Factoryville Borough as maintenance manager since 1999 and was also employed by the Nicholson/Benton Sewer Authority. The obit states he was chief superintendent and board member of Factoryville Boro/Clinton Township Joint Municipal Park, a member of the Factoryville Fire Company, Factoryville Men’s Civic League and Factoryville Masonic Lodge #341 F&AM, the 2014 person of the year for Factoryville Men’s Civic League, the 2016 person of the year for the Factoryville Women’s Civic League and a board member of the Lackawanna Trail Jr. Lions Football.
Swift’s cousin Frank Jezorwksi, of Scranton, referred to him as his “childhood pal.”
“He always smiled and laughed about most things in life,” Jezorwski said. “Steve could take your bad mood and turn it around in very short order. Believe me when I tell you, he was an angel on Earth.”
Even those who knew Swift only casually thought well of him.
“He was a great guy, really friendly,” said Factoryville resident Jake McNamara, who worked at Ray’s Market on College Avenue from 2011-2015 and remembers Swift as a regular customer.
McNamara learned of the news while browsing Facebook around midnight Tuesday during his lunch break at work.
According to the obituary, a funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the funeral home at 33 Reynolds St., Factoryville, with Pastor Peter Raser officiating.