Washington, D.C. (Law Firm Newswire) February 25, 2014 — One construction worker was killed and another injured at Baylor University in Waco, Texas on January 28, 2014.
Jose Dario Suarez, 55, drowned when he was dragged into the Brazos River by a collapsed construction lift. Four hours later, Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens located and recovered his body using sonar equipment. Suarez and another employee were working on a pedestrian bridge linking Baylor Law School to the new McLane Stadium.
Federal officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the death.
Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney David Lietz says the work of accident investigators is key in cases such as this.
“On the surface, many accidents appear to be completely random and unavoidable,” Lietz points out. “It’s only after investigators and attorneys start really digging that negligence and culpability are sometimes uncovered. In this case, of course, it’s crucial to determine whether all safety regulations and standard practices were observed. Were all workers involved in the accident properly trained? Was the equipment properly maintained and inspected? Mr. Suarez’s family members deserve to know exactly what happened and whether the accident could have been prevented.”
At about 4:00 p.m., Suarez and another worker, both employees of Derr and Isbell Construction Company, were tethered to a manlift (also known as a boom lift or cherry picker) that was atop a floating construction barge. The manlift fell off the barge into the river, dragging the two men with it. One man, whom officials have not identified, was able to release himself from the equipment, but Suarez was pulled under the water.
According to Waco police, Suarez was still attached to the lift and wearing his flotation device when authorities recovered his body at 8:15 p.m.
Lori Fogleman, a vice president at Baylor, said the university would cooperate fully with OSHA investigators. The cause of the lift’s collapse remains unknown. Sgt. Patrick Swinton of the Waco police said the death is being classified as an industrial accident.
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