CON­CRETE SLAB KILLS WORKER AT BUILD­ING SITE

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Wil­son md­wil­son@states­man.com

A man was crushed Wed­nes­day morn­ing when a con­crete slab weigh­ing 30,000 to 40,000 pounds fell on him at a con­struc­tion site for an apart­ment com­plex in South­east Austin.

Emer­gency crews re­sponded around 9:14 a.m. to re­ports of a man trapped un­der a slab just in­side a fenced-off site at Wick­er­sham Lane and Cromwell Cir­cle. Res­cuers ini­tially were un­able to get to the vic­tim, who was pinned un­der the slab as it leaned against a trac­tor-trailer sit­ting un­der a crane.

Fire­fight­ers got to work with sledge­ham­mers, drills and other tools to cut away at the slab and free the man, but when they fi­nally reached him, he was dead. Au­thor­i­ties did not iden­tify the man.

Austin-Travis County Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices crews pro­nounced him dead at 10:01 a.m.

Austin Fire Depart­ment Divi­sion Chief Palmer Buck said the slab was a pre­formed con­crete panel for a park­ing garage be­ing built on the site. Ex­actly how the man be­came trapped un­der the slab wasn’t im­me­di­ately known.

Vic­tor Arocha, a teenager who lives in an apart­ment com­plex across Wick­er­sham, said he and his par­ents heard a loud crash in the morn­ing and then sirens.

He came out­side with his mother and saw first re­spon­ders sur­round­ing a large pile of con­crete, he said.

“It’s ter­ri­fy­ing,” Arocha said. “When I saw the crime scene van, I just (thought), ‘I don’t think this guy made it at all.’ ”

Cadence McShane Con­struc­tion Co. signs mark the site, where de­vel­op­ers are build­ing the Edi­son apart­ment com­plex near East River­side Drive and Pleas­ant Val­ley Road.

“We are deeply sad­dened by the death of a sub­con­trac­tor’s worker at the Austin con­struc­tion site this morn­ing and ex­tend our deep­est sym­pa­thies to his fam­ily and co-work­ers,” the com­pany said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. “Along with other com­pa­nies work­ing at the site, we are as­sist­ing the proper au­thor­i­ties who are in­ves­ti­gat­ing this in­ci­dent.” Con­struc­tion of the Edi­son is part of the on­go­ing re­de­vel­op­ment of the East River­side Drive cor­ri­dor. The de­vel­oper, Pre­sid­ium Group, be­gan build­ing the park­ing garage last month. The first of the planned 353 up­scale apart­ment units were due to open in May or June 2018, Pre­sid­ium’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of de­vel­op­ment, Nathan Vargo, told the Amer­i­can-States­man last month.

On Wed­nes­day, au­thor­i­ties said the con­struc­tion was on hold while in­ves­ti­ga­tors sorted through the rub­ble. Austin po­lice and fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors with the Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion will look into the deadly in­ci­dent.

O SHA sta­tis­tics show that more than 4,500 work­ers die on the job each year. From Jan. 12 through April 27, the agency recorded more than 70 worker deaths in Texas, ac­cord­ing to on­line records.

A con­struc­tion worker in Wil­liamson County died in Jan­uary when he was run over by his own back­hoe af­ter he was thrown from it on Pear­son Road, au­thor­i­ties said at the time. The man had been work­ing on a county con­struc­tion project to ex­tend Pear­son Road to Texas 45.

Last Au­gust, a con­struc­tion worker in Lock­hart died af­ter a con­struc­tion trench col­lapsed. An­other per­son also was in­jured in the in­ci­dent, au­thor­i­ties said.

JAY JANNER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Fire­fight­ers work at the scene of a fa­tal con­struc­tion ac­ci­dent at apart­ments on Wick­er­sham Lane on Wed­nes­day. Fire­fight­ers worked with sledge­ham­mers, drills and other tools to cut away at a slab that crushed a man, but when they fi­nally reached him, he was dead.

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