Jeffrey Fonteyn spent almost half of his life working for Motley-based Enberg Logging.
On Thursday, company owner Rod Enberg and two co-workers, both Fonteyn's cousins, mourned the passing of the 35-year-old Staples man who died after becoming entangled in the conveyor belt of a horizontal grinding machine at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at a job site near Leader.
"It was just a terrible, terrible tragedy," said Enberg, whose crew had taken Tuesday off of work. "We don't know when we'll go back to work and I don't care. It's just one of those deals. We've got to work through it.
"We're a small operation. Like I've told other people, this isn't a place of employment, it's like a family. We've all worked together for so many years and it's been pretty tough for all of us."
In addition to logging, Enberg's company clears land and grinds wood for the biomass energy market. Fonteyn started work with the company in 1995 and spent every working day after in the woods, Enberg said.
His love of the outdoors extended beyond work, Enberg said. Fonteyn enjoyed sports, ice fishing, baiting bears in the fall and showing his nephews outdoor activities.
"He was just the greatest guy; as hard working, conscientious and caring a person you'd probably ever find," Enberg said. "He really was a ball of energy, a super energetic person. He was fun to be around."
Enberg said Fonteyn had a girlfriend but no children. Funeral services are pending with Brenny Funeral Home in Staples.
The Cass County Sheriff's Department reported Fonteyn died at the scene and an autopsy is scheduled with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office.
Sheriff Randy Fisher said it appeared Fonteyn suffered massive chest wounds.
"It's just a tragedy," Fisher said.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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