Former Grand Rapids, Minn. NHL player dies after injury at paper mill

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (From news reports) -- The former professional hockey player from Grand Rapids who was badly injured while on the job at UPM Blandin, a Grand Rapids paper mill, died Tuesday morning, Dec. 17.

On his CaringBridge page, Scot Kleinendorst's family wrote that they had made the decision to "let Scot pass" after he fought for his life for over a week.

"Despite the heroic and painstaking efforts of all the medical staff at Essentia, Scot's injuries were simply too devastating to come back from," the CaringBridge post stated. "Scot was so strong and was fighting so hard, but there comes a time when it is no longer fair to continue to make him do that. His progress slowed and then began to regress."

Kleinendorst, 59, suffered many broken bones and serious brain trauma following the heavy-machinery accident on Dec. 7. He was airlifted to Duluth, where he went into an emergency brain surgery.

"Making the decision to let Scot pass was extremely hard, because of the unspeakable grief and unfillable void we now have to endure," the CaringBridge post stated. "However, making this decision was easy when it came to what Scot would ask us to do for him if he could. Of that we are certain. Scot let go at 4 a.m. this morning, surrounded his loving family, including Kora and Cassie, his loyal and beloved pups."

Kleinendorst played eight NHL seasons as a defenseman from 1982-90, mostly with the Hartford Whalers.

Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration Compliance is now responding to the incident as a fatality, spokesperson Jenny O'Brien said.

"It will investigate to determine the cause of the accident, whether existing OSHA standards were violated and whether additional standards are necessary to help avoid a recurrence of similar accidents," O'Brien said.

The family is in the process of planning Kleinendorst's celebration of life.