Family, faith and football are just a few of the words that come to mind when people think of the late Peato Peato “Benjamin” Galo who died last month as a result of injuries suffered when a building collapsed on top of him near Chubbuck.
Galo, 44, of Pocatello, was the primary financial provider for his family. He’s survived by his wife, Maila, and their five children — Iafeta, 18; Hipa, 16; Bruce, 13; McKay, 11; and Kataleia, 7.
Though no amount of money can fill the void his untimely death has created, fundraising efforts are underway to help his family out financially.
Those wanting to support the Galo family are encouraged to attend a spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m on Oct. 1 at the Bannock County Veterans Memorial Building at 300 N. Johnson Ave. in Pocatello.
The North Bannock County Firefighters Association is hosting the fundraiser for Galo’s family and for 19-year-old Pocatello resident Houston Briscoe, who was seriously injured in the same Aug. 20 building collapse that killed Galo.
The building that collapsed was going to be used as the newly formed North Bannock County Fire Department’s first fire station.
Briscoe told the Idaho State Journal during a Monday phone interview that he intends to donate all the proceeds raised from the spaghetti dinner to the Galo family.
“In terms of this fundraiser, I want all of the money to go to Galos,” Briscoe said. “I am financially taken care of and with him being (his family’s) primary source of income, I know they could use the money more than me.”
Galo and Briscoe were working for the Pocatello company constructing the building, Todd Briscoe Construction, when the collapse occurred, authorities said.
Todd Briscoe is Houston’s uncle.
The building was located northwest of the intersection of Highway 91 and Tyhee Road and was totally destroyed during the collapse, the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Galo was killed and Houston was seriously injured when the structure collapsed and the roof fell on top of them.
Authorities told the Journal last month that Galo died as a result of blunt-force trauma. Houston suffered a broken back, three broken ribs and a collapsed lung during the collapse.
Galo and Houston were rushed via ambulances to Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello following the accident. Galo was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly thereafter while Houston remained at PMC for several days receiving treatment.
Thirteen other workers were at the work site at the time of the collapse but none of them suffered injuries that required hospitalization.
According to Scott Briscoe, Houston’s father and someone who has worked with Galo for over a decade, Galo was the “best kind of guy you could ever meet.”
“Galo had been my framer for over 10 years and was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Scott said. “He was a father of five and it just breaks your heart to see these boys stop by their dad’s grave site and he doesn’t even have a headstone.”
Houston is recovering quickly after doctors fused three of his vertebrae together and placed two metal rods in his back. He said it’s his heart that hurts the most because Galo was not only his boss but also one of his best friends.
“I worked with Galo from March until the accident happened and we framed about one house every single week during that time,” Houston said. “He was more than just a boss to me. He was just a true friend. If I needed to talk to him about problems he would always listen.”
Houston continued, “A few guys that had been working with us had struggled with addiction. He was always the guy to give them a second chance. He was like a father to all of us on the job site. If I were to ever get kicked out of my house I guarantee he would be the type of person to take me in, even with five kids at home. He was just a great guy. It breaks my heart.”
Scott said his son and Galo’s family are each receiving about $1,400 a month in worker’s compensation money.
The $1,400 is less than a third of what Galo had been earning monthly from Todd Briscoe Construction.
“That’s just not enough money for (Galo’s) family, who had to pay for a funeral on top of everything else,” Scott said.
Houston added, “I think the Galo family deserves more (because) $1,400 a month is not fair. They should be getting what he was getting paid every month.”
While the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office are still investigating the building collapse to try and determine exactly what happened, Scott said he doesn’t think anything could have been done to prevent the incident.
“I worry that with the accident everyone wants to blame somebody, that someone wants to make someone responsible,” Scott said. “In hindsight, there is always something that could be done but I know those guys checked the trusses and made sure they were solid and were using three times the bracing than normal. Accidents just happen no matter what. There is no way to prevent everything from happening. It’s just a crappy situation.”
Since the collapse, Galo’s wife and children have been forced to move out of their home and are now living with her brother, she told the Journal during a Tuesday phone interview.
Galo was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where he was serving as elders quorum president, said Maila, adding that Galo was also active with each of their boys’ football teams and his daughter’s soccer team.
“He was always go, go go,” Maila said. “He would wake up and go to work at 5:30 in the morning and wouldn’t get home until 9 at night. Still, he was never tired.”
In addition to the upcoming spaghetti dinner fundraiser, which costs $5 per plate or $20 per family, those interested in donating money to the Galo family can do so by using the Venmo app with the following link venmo.com/thegalofamily.