(MCT) — Officials say Neal Pagano's children last saw their father Saturday night, as he watched television in the family’s Glenview home. At about 8:30 a.m. the next day, two of the children found their father lying dead in a brick fire pit in the backyard, according to authorities.
Glenview police said that Pagano, 46, either tripped and fell backward onto the unlit fire pit, striking his head and upper body on its edge, or he had some medical condition that caused him to fall.
Pagano was pronounced dead at his home in the 2300 block of Dewes Street at about 9:08 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. An autopsy conducted Monday determined that he died from a fractured cervical spine caused by the fall. His death was ruled an accident, according to the office.
Glenview police do not suspect foul play, according to Cmdr. Don Hohs. The pit was not used for a fire on Saturday night, Hohs said, adding that it rained that night.
"It's a tragic situation for the family," Hohs said. "Everybody's hearts go out to the family."
Pagano, who was recently featured in a Crain’s Chicago Business article about his Chicago-based manufacturing company, was home with his two early-teenage children while his wife traveled out of the state with the couple’s oldest son for the son’s athletic team, Hohs said.
A co-worker at Pagano’s company, Pallet Wrapz Inc., said Monday that Pagano was one of three partners in the business, which incorporated in late 2010 or early 2011.
"He was a phenomenal guy … the life of the room," said friend and co-worker Rich Sklena. "He lifted everyone up."
Sklena described Pagano as a "straightforward guy" who was active in his three sons' athletic endeavors. Pagano worked long hours helping to build the new business, Sklena said, and was excited about a small business class he recently started attending.
"He sat two feet from me and I know he's not coming back," Sklena said. "It's devastating. He'll be dearly missed."