First Night worker killed during Boston event setup remembered by family for his ‘perpetual kindness’

Brandon McSweeney, 34, of Sherborn, died Saturday while working in Copley Square.

Brandon J. McSweeney was killed Saturday while working on setup for Boston's First Night celebration. Family photo

Friends and loved ones are remembering Brandon McSweeney, the worker who was killed Saturday while helping with setup for Boston’s First Night celebrations, for his quiet strength and kindness. 

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McSweeney, 34, of Sherborn was working for United Staging & Rigging, one of the companies assisting with the setup of First Night, at the time of his death. 

“Brandon was a loving son to Jay and Sheryl McSweeney, and loyal brother to Russell, Jayson and Emily,” his family wrote in a statement to WCVB. “He was a good-natured man of quiet strength, solid intelligence and perpetual kindness. His loving presence will sorely be missed by family, friends and co-workers alike.” 

Jon Sharpe, owner of United Staging & Rigging, told the station that McSweeney was building a lighting tower for the New Year’s celebrations in Back Bay when a 3,500-pound ballast dislodged from a forklift and landed on his chest. 


He died just before 10 a.m.

“The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority and we are working with the Boston Police and OSHA to determine how this could have happened,” Sharpe said in an emailed statement on Sunday. “We will respond to the findings when the investigations are complete. Tonight, our focus and prayers are with our employee, his family and co-workers.” 

In a statement, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said his “heart goes out to Brandon McSweeney’s family and friends.”

Brian Liberge, a former roommate of the 34-year-old, wrote on Twitter that McSweeney was a caring friend and “generous with what he had.”

“He cared about thoughts,” Liberge wrote. “He respected prayers. And when you’ve had time for those, he watched to see what you did with your actions. He was the friend that picked up a stranger in a blizzard who didn’t even have their thumb out.”

Joel Sexton, who crossed paths with McSweeney in different work settings, described the 34-year-old as a “kind-hearted person and one hell of a stagehand/rigger.” 

RIP Brandon McSweeney. I didn’t know him outside of the workplace but the handful of times I worked with him whether it…

Posted by Joel Sexton on Sunday, December 29, 2019

Richard Wood, a co-founder of the Waltham-based Wooden Kiwi Productions, told the Boston Globe he had known McSweeney for more than a decade through his work for the company and for United Staging & Rigging.


“I’m devastated by the news about Brandon,” Wood told the newspaper. “He was a wonderful person. I would have trusted him with my life. I think the whole Boston theater community is taking a step back and appreciating Brandon and appreciating the work that he did. He was always safety conscious; he was always responsible. He was a great person to work with.”

According to WCVB, McSweeney’s family is establishing a memorial scholarship fund in his name. 

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. 


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