NORTH TOLEDO -- Tragedy has again hit the Veterans' Glass City Skyway construction project. A bridge worker fell to his death Thursday morning in north Toledo.
Ron Rothenbuler, regional director for Carpenters' Union Local 1138, says 36-year-old Andrew W. Burris of Curtice, Ohio, was working on the north side of the bridge around 9:15am Thursday when it gave way. Burris fell about 80 feet, and landed in a grassy area near Summit Street next to the existing I-280 traffic lanes. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Toledo Police cordoned off the scene to investigate, but a detective on the scene tells News 11 the death appears accidental.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also sent investigators to the scene. In a news release, the Ohio Department of Transportation says its representatives are working with the contractor, OSHA and Fru-Con to review the accident.
"On behalf of Director Beasley and the Ohio Department of Transportation, we extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Andrew Burris," said Dave Dysard, ODOT District 2 director. "We also extend our condolences to his relatives, friends and his fellow workers who have made us proud through their commitment and dedication to their work."
"Andrew was a part of the team that took the pylon to the top back in 2005. For four-and-a-half years, he was an integral part of the team that worked to complete this vital link for our community," said Dysard.
To lend support and sympathy, ODOT will send trained professionals to provide stress and emotional counseling and will work in cooperation with other agencies involved in the incident.
"I want to express our sympathy to the family. I want to let them know we will do everything we can to assist them," said Rothenbuler in a news conference.
"What began as a beautiful day in Toledo, Ohio, turned out to be a very sad day," said Mayor Carty Finkbeiner. "Let the rest of us grieve the loss of a man who loved what he was doing and loved his family."
At a construction cost of $220 million dollars, the Skyway is the largest single construction project in ODOT history. When completed, the cable-stayed, precast segmental concrete bridge will carry six lanes of Interstate 280 across the Maumee River in Toledo. It replaces the Craig Memorial Bridge, one of the few remaining drawbridges in the U.S. interstate system.
In February of 2004, four ironworkers were killed and four more were hurt when a 1,000-ton construction truss came crashing down. The truss was used to lift concrete sections of the roadway into place. Nearly all the crane's wreckage fell between the highway lanes, narrowly missing passing traffic and landing on two construction trucks.
Killed were Mike Phillips, 42; Robert Lipinski, Jr., 44; and Mike Moreau, 30. Arden Clark II, 47, died of his injuries in the days shortly after the incident. Four more people were hurt.
After an investigation, OSHA determined the company failed to properly secure the truss before the collapse. Bridge contractor Fru-Con agreed to pay $293,000 in fines and increase safety oversight. The company also agreed that it will now have at least one independent consultant at all of its bridge projects in the U.S.
OSHA also fined St. Louis-based Fru-Con $280,000 -- the maximum allowed -- because the agency said the company violated four workplace safety standards. OSHA said at the time that the company knew of the problems and did nothing to correct it.
Fru-Con paid $11.25 million dollars to settle lawsuits filed in Lucas County by the families of Phillips, Lipinski, and Clark. The company reached a separate settlement with Moreau's family, who sued in a Monroe County court.
The bridge was scheduled to open later this year. Count on News 11 to follow the bridge as construction continues.