Fatal Accident

August 1, 2008

In mid-May, an employee in the Facilities Management Department (FMD) died in an accident that occurred when a steam line ruptured in the basement of the Levine Science Research Center. Rayford Cofer, sixty-three, a master steamfitter, was working in the basement when the accident occurred in the building's mechanical room. There were no other reports of injuries. Several investigations are under way to determine the cause of the incident.

Cofer, who began working for FMD in 2001, was honored in 2003 with a Meritorious Service Award, one of the top employee honors at Duke. In April 2006, his team was honored for maintenance work in the Allen Building. He also was on FMD's Team of the Quarter in October 2004 and April 2003 and was FMD Employee of the Quarter in January 2004 and October 2002.

"Rayford is one of a key handful of FMD employees who keep this place running," a co-worker said of Cofer in 2004.

In the wake of his death, university flags were lowered to half-mast on Duke's East and West campuses. A memorial service was held for Cofer in Duke Chapel. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne; two sons; and a brother.