One person was killed and a second badly injured in an accident at a bridge construction project on Interstate 495 in Haverhill, Massachusetts, on Wednesday morning.
The Essex District Attorney's Office said one person was confirmed dead at the scene and another was taken by medical helicopter to Lahey Hospital in Burlington where he underwent surgery. His condition is not yet known.
The name of the person who was killed is being withheld pending the notification of family members, but the DA's office identified him as a 44-year-old man from Manchester, New Hampshire.
Foul play has been ruled out by investigators, the DA's office said.
Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation identified the two workers as employees of J.R. Vinagro Corporation, a subcontractor on the project.
"Our hearts go out to the friends and family of the deceased. It is obviously a very tragic situation and the time of year makes it all the more difficult," MassDot Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said.
State police said they responded to the scene of the construction accident in the area of 115 Bank Rd. shortly before 10 a.m. Their preliminary investigation showed the two workers fell from the bucket of a lift truck as they were working on a bridge over the Merrimack River. The workers fell onto a barge below. What caused them to fall remains under investigation.
MassDot said this was the Haverhill job site's first incident.
"The workers were preparing for a demolition phase that's coming up in the coming weeks when the accident occurred," Gulliver said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed they are responding to the scene.
The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) released a statement saying that the "tragic event is a reminder that working at heights remains a very dangerous job." The agency added that employers should make sure OSHA-required safety measures are carefully implemented.
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"During this time where many of us make special plans to be with friends and family, the sudden death of a loved one who died attempting to make a living can be especially difficult," MassCOSH’s Executive Director Jodi Sugerman-Brozan said. "We have been deeply upset by the recent spike in workplace deaths these past few months, and our heart breaks for those affected. At MassCOSH, we will honor those we lost by never forgetting their names and by working hard to improve workplace safety across the state."
According to Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the construction project is part of an ongoing effort to replace and widen the existing bridges carrying traffic over the Merrimack River to address structural and functional deficiencies. The project area extends from Exit 48 south of the bridges to Exit 49 north of the bridges.
Later in the day, officials with J.R. Vinagro Corporation issued a statement confirming that the two employees had been injured on the site and that all questions should be referred to state police.
"We have no further comment at this time however we offer our thoughts and prayers to the employees and their families," J.R. Vinagro Corporation General Manager Karen Hilton said.