1 confirmed dead after backhoe accident in St. Paul

10:49 AM, Sep 10, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - A backhoe operator is confirmed dead after a construction accident on the new Lowertown Ballpark site near the junction of Interstate 94 and Highway 52 in St. Paul.

Emergency officials say a large slab of concrete fell onto the cab of a backhoe that was involved in tearing down the old Gillette building at 310 East Fifth Street, not far from the St. Paul Farmers Market. St. Paul Fire Marshall Steve Zaccard tells KARE 11 the operator of the backhoe did not survive.

Rachel Contracting of St. Michael was awarded the demolition contract for the Lowertown Ballpark site. An employee tearfully told KARE 11 that the firm is not commenting on Tuesday's accident.

Fire Marshall Zaccard says the work site has been shut down while the fire department's tactical rescue team works to remove the body of the victim. Zaccard calls it "a very dangerous scene, treacherous, with lots of material on the ground."

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman offered his condolences to the family of the fallen worker, and asked everyone to pray for them and all the workers who risk their safety to build our communities.

"Men and women risk their lives on a daily basis to build our community. This is a tragic example of the risks that those individuals take," Coleman said.

Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are already on site to begin the probe into what led to the fatal incident.

A check of the OSHA website shows two planned safety inspections were conducted in 2010 at a site Rachel Contracting was working. One focused on Rachel's excavation work and the other on their wrecking and demolition work. It appears no serious violations were found.

In face Rachel Contracting was named the 2013 Minnesota Construction Association subcontractor of the year. Their license if current with the Minnesota Department of Industry and Labor.

More details are expected at a news conference scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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