Steve Shelton went to work for Bell’s Amusement Park in 1988. He was 16.
He was strong as an ox, Robby Bell would tell you, and sweet as could be.
And he was not afraid of heights.
Indeed, he relished doing his work high above the ground, the better to get away from the hustle and bustle below.
“You know how busy it gets,” at the fairgrounds, said Bell. “We would love to work on the Zingo and on the Sky Ride because it’s amazing how quiet it gets when you get about 20 feet off the ground. Nobody bothers you.”
Shelton, 43, died Saturday doing what he loved — working the Sky Ride at Expo Square.
He leaves behind his wife, Katie, who is expecting their second child any day, and a daughter, Hannah, 5.
“Me and my father, we have had tens of thousands of people who worked for our family from 1951 to 2006,” Bell said. “And even though so many of those people were wonderful employees, I cannot think of one that was better than Steve Shelton.
“He was one of the strongest men that I have ever known. But inside that strong physique was one of the most tender-hearted and sweet guys you would ever meet.”
Shelton and another worker were doing routine maintenance on the Sky Ride Saturday morning when the bucket they were in collapsed and fell to the ground, leaving the men dangling by their harnesses, the Tulsa World reported.
When the Fire Department arrived, they found one man conscious and the other unconscious and in critical condition, said EMSA’s Kelli Bruer.
The men were transferred to St. John Medical Center, where Shelton died.
The incident is still under investigation, and the state Medical Examiner’s Office has not released an official cause of death.
The men were working for DMC Tulsa, LLC, the lessee and operator of the Sky Ride.
Bell said the man in the bucket with Shelton was Michael Record, another former Bell’s Amusement Park employee.
“There were many times when I worked with both of them,” Bell said. “We worked on the Sky Ride together and I would trust my life with either of those men any day, anytime and any where.”
After Bell’s closed in 2006, Shelton went to work at Expo Square, where he was a well-liked duty man. He resigned from that position earlier this year.
Bell said Shelton was one of the best ride inspectors in the country who loved his family more than anything.
“He was the consummate family man,” Bell said. “He loved his wife and his daughter.”
Tulsa County officials took the news hard Monday. Commissioner Ron Peters announced Shelton’s death at the commissioners’ morning meeting.
“It’s very sad,” Peters said. “Keep him in your prayers.”
A private Facebook page has been already set up to honor Shelton.
It shows Shelton and his coworkers standing next to one of the Sky Ride cars. He’s got a big smile on his face.