Worker Killed in Blanchette Bridge Construction Accident

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On June 10, 2013 in Earth City at about 10:00 a.m., one worker was killed in a construction accident on a barge downstream from the Blanchette Bridge. He was an employee of the Walsh Construction Company.

Community relations coordinator for the Missouri Department of Transportation, Linda Wilson Horn, confirmed that a worker had died and that Walsh Construction had canceled work for the rest of the day.

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the worker as Patrick J. Bray, age 51 of Jerseyville, Illinois.

A statement released by the Walsh Construction Company indicated that Patrick Bray died of injuries after being struck by a 55-gallon drum. The company said a thorough investigation has begun to determine the cause of the accident, which was approximately midway between the Blanchette and Discovery bridges at a staging area. The company then sent a release saying that work has been halted while the company focuses on providing support to co-workers on the project.

The U.S. Coast Guard was assisting the Walsh Construction Company return a barge and crane to the staging area that was swept down river three weeks ago due to strong storms in the area. According to authorities, Patrick Bray was working on the same barge that slammed into the Discovery Bridge and was killed after the crane lifting the 55-gallon drum fell.

Coast Guard’s Lt. Colin Fogarty confirmed that members of the Coast Guard were at the scene observing the project when the drum fell on Patrick Bray. Coast Guard members responded and one administered CPR until paramedics arrived. Patrick Bray was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

This accident was handled by the U.S. Coast Guard and emergency personnel from the Robertson Fire Protection District.

MoDOT closed the westbound side of the Blanchette Bridge last November for a maximum of one year. Recently, MoDOT announced that the work to rebuild the westbound lanes, a total cost of $64 million, of the Blanchette Bridge should be finished two months ahead of schedule. The Walsh Construction Company has completed most of its work and had one year to finish the project after the bridge closed on November 2, 2012.

The Walsh Construction Company of Chicago, Illinois is the contractor in charge of the Westbound Blanchette Bridge Project and was planning to close one lane of Interstate 70 to southbound Fifth Street due to a three-week long project for bridge repair work. The Walsh Construction Company has canceled their scheduled work.

Officials with the St. Louis office of OSHA verified they were investigating the accident and that the investigation could take up to six months.

According to reports from KMOV, two safety violations are listed against the Walsh Construction Company through Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA.) One of the violations listed dealt with working over a body of water. KMOV also learned that the company has paid about $8,500 in workplace safety fines since 2010.

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