BURLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Family and friends are mourning a 32-year-old man who recently got married and became a father after he lost his life in a chemical incident at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Burlington where he worked as general manager, which reopened for the first time Saturday since his death.
The family of Ryan Baldera, who died at Lahey Hospital, are remembering him as “a beloved husband, father, son, brother, and cherished uncle, nephew, and son-in-law, to his close-knit family and friends.”
In a statement, they said, “While devastated at this unimaginable loss, we are so very proud that Ryan died while trying to protect his fellow employees and restaurant patrons. Our family asks for the public and the media to respect our privacy while we mourn Ryan’s untimely death.”
Emergency crews responding to a reported chemical reaction in the kitchen area of the South Avenue restaurant just after 5:30 p.m. found Baldera suffering from nausea after he apparently breathed in the fumes of a powerful cleaning agent while trying to get it out of the building.
At least 10 other employees and two customers checked themselves into the hospital for symptoms that included difficulty breathing, burning eyes and shortness of breath.
One customer recalled smelling the chemical before seeing the employees run out of the building.
“We’re just sitting there and then all of a sudden we start smelling the whatever it was, ammonia or whatever it smelled like, and all of a sudden the inside of my nose starts burning,” he said. “We see the employees, like the waitstaff, everybody just flee.”
A statement released by a Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson read in part: “We are shocked and saddened to learn of this horrific accident at our franchise-owned sports bar and are working closely with our franchisee and the authorities while they conduct an investigation.”
Anyone who was in the restaurant and thinks they may have been impacted by the mixture is urged to seek medical treatment.
The Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce set up a GoFundMe to help support the Baldera family.
Donations may also be sent to The Ryan Baldera Memorial Fund at Cambridge Savings Bank: 214 Cambridge Street, Burlington, MA 01803.
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