Local News

One killed in church roof collapse in Sampson County

Posted February 18, 2010 5:17 p.m. EST
Updated February 19, 2010 8:05 a.m. EST

— One person was killed when the roof of a church in Sampson County collapsed on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

The Sampson County Highway Patrol said crews were working on the roof of the new sanctuary at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, 3790 Faison Highway in Clinton, when it collapsed just before 4:30 p.m.

Two others were injured and taken to Sampson Regional Hospital. One of the patients was later airlifted UNC Hospital.

The person who was killed and the two who were injured were construction workers. Their names were not released.

When the collapse happened, crews were replacing wood around the structure that had just been put up hours before, construction worker Orlando Martinez said. The crane operator had just wrapped up his work and the crew was trying to stabilize the building.

“We’re taking some two by fours out and every time we took it out, we heard a sound,” Martinez said. “And then suddenly half the structure came down.”

Martinez and the two men with him were working on the part of the structure that did not cave in. In all, nine men were working on the structure when it gave way.

The man who was killed had only been on the job for two days, Martinez said.

"He was glad," Martinez said. "He was happy that he found a job. He was a happy man."

The contractor for the construction project is Clifton Halso Building Contractor in Chinquapin.

Tony Rackley, chairman of the church's Board of Deacons, said the new sanctuary was being built to coincide with the church's 100th anniversary.

“All we ask if for people to pray for us. We’ll pull together and we’ll overcome this,” Rackley said.

Construction of the sanctuary started last October and was expected to be completed by November of this year, Rackley said.

Sampson County authorities said representatives with the Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be at the site on Friday to investigate the structure collapse.