One dead, four hurt in bridge collapse on Wake Tech campus
Posted November 13, 2014
Updated November 14, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — One man was killed Thursday morning when a pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed on the north Raleigh campus of Wake Technical Community College.
Four other workers suffered serious injuries and were taken to WakeMed. Officials said Friday that three of the four men were scheduled to have surgery. One man had back and neck injuries, and another has a broken leg, officials said. Another man was being treated for pain. Their names have not been released.
One section of the 200-foot-long bridge, which cuts through a wooded area on campus and traverses a creek to connect a library under construction along Perry Creek Road with nearby classroom buildings, collapsed, dropping as much as 40 feet to the ground, said Jeffrey Hammerstein, district chief for Wake County EMS.
Other workers were on the bridge at the time but were able to escape unharmed, Wake County EMS operations chief Jonathan Olson said.
"All of the people were scattered around where this bridge fell," Olson said.
Although Olson said no one was underneath the structure at the time, several people who called 911 to report the collapse told a different story.
"There is one (man) trapped under. They are getting the concrete off of him right now, and I can't tell if he is alive or not, but it does not look good," one caller said.
"The bridge collapsed on them," another caller said. "One guy is pinned under the bridge. They are trying to lift the bridge off of him now,"
"It’s a wooden bridge, and they are trying to get it off of one person. Looks to be some people trapped," a third called reported.
Video obtained by Que Pasa Media Network shows the hectic moments immediately after the collapse of the bridge.
Paramedics arrived at the campus within six minutes of the 10:15 a.m. collapse, Olson said. Getting to the injured took some time, however, because of the construction in the area and the wooded terrain.
Wake Tech President Stephen Scott said workers were pouring cement for the bridge's 140-foot center span when the center span collapsed.
Skanska USA, which has offices in Durham and Morrisville, was the general contractor for the bridge, but Skanska Senior Vice President Allen Jones said the men who were killed and injured worked for Raleigh-based Central Concrete of North Carolina, a subcontractor on the project.
"It's like something hit you in the gut," he said when hearing about the accident.
Rui Sousa, the general manager of Central Concrete, was too upset to discuss the collapse Thursday afternoon. He said only that authorities had contacted the families of the victims.
Central Concrete has been in business for 18 years and has only one citation for workplace safety violations on its record. Regulators fined the company in 2008 for not adequately protecting workers from falls.
Meanwhile, Skanska settled with the state Department of Labor in 2009 over safety violations during the construction of an East Carolina University dormitory in 2005. The company was cited for problems with its fall protection program and failure to train employees in safety policies.
It's not known whether safety issues played a part in the injuries suffered by workers Thursday.
Jones said this is the only fatality he can remember on a Skanska project in North Carolina in his 28 years with the company. The firm is working with state and federal investigators to determine the cause of the accident, he said.
Wake Tech officials broke ground on the bridge, the parking deck and other facilities last spring, and construction was expected to be finished next summer. They are among the first projects paid for with bonds approved by local voters in 2012.
The collapse didn't affect any classes or students on campus, officials said.