A man critically injured while collecting garbage in south Ottawa has died of his injuries.

Labour Group employee Rocco D’Angelo, age 46, was struck by an SUV on Greenbank Road while doing contract work around 1 p.m. Tuesday.

He died in hospital later that night.

Employer and long-time friend Nick Caravatta told CTV Ottawa Tuesday D’Angelo was a reliable, good employee.

"There definitely is a missing piece of the puzzle here," he said. "We try to provide a very family-oriented environment."

D’Angelo had been working for the company as a contract waste management worker for four years.

He had just proposed to his girlfriend a few days ago.

Family members said they were too emotional to speak on-camera, but they and friends described the man who was well-known in the Italian community as a gentle giant.

"Rocco was always taking the initiative," Caravatta said. "He'd call me at night, let me know how his day went."

Family members also said they forgive the driver that hit him, calling it a "terrible accident."

Ottawa police and Ontario's Ministry of Labour are investigating, trying to determine if D'Angelo was crossing the street when he was hit.

Company policy says workers should only pick up garbage on one side of the street.

"Apparently the area is very secluded, almost a rural setting," said Ottawa police. "There doesn't appear to be any witnesses."

Speed and alcohol have been ruled out as factors.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Natalie Duddridge