Construction worker presumed dead after falling from Lewis and Clark Bridge

2012-10-07T20:05:00Z 2012-11-04T08:24:42Z Construction worker presumed dead after falling from Lewis and Clark BridgeBy Marqise Allen / The Daily News Longview Daily News
October 07, 2012 8:05 pm  • 

A contract construction worker is missing and presumed drowned after falling 200 feet from the Lewis and Clark Bridge into the Columbia River on Sunday morning, according to the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office.

The man — who police are not identifying yet — was working on a platform underneath the mid-point of the bridge when another worker saw him fall into the river at about 11:30 a.m. The Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Coast Guard, local tug boat operators and private recreational boaters searched the river for nearly three hours but were unable to find him.

Cowlitz Dive and Rescue was on scene but did not take part in the search due to safety concerns.

"That section of the river is a hazardous place to dive," said Charlie Rosenzweig, Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office's chief criminal deputy. "It's high risk on a good day."

There was nothing at the site that explained why the worker's safety equipment did not prevent his fall, and co-workers described the missing man as safety conscious and experienced at bridge work, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"We'll probably learn what happened when and if we locate him," Rosenzweig said. "Nothing at the scene clearly explains (how he fell)."

Sheriff's office officials are unsure if and when they will continue the search for the missing worker.

The man's name and information will not be released until his family has been notified.

Don Wagner, regional administrator for Washington state Department of Transportation's Southwest Region, said the worker was part of a rigging crew that was installing underdeck platforms at the time of his fall. WSDOT hired Houston, Pa.-based Odyssey-Geronimo JV to repaint the Lewis and Clark Bridge in 2010.

"We take the safety of all workers, whether they're our employees or contractors, seriously," Wagner said. "An investigation will tell us what happened, but for right now we want to extend our sympathy to the family and crews for this tragedy."

Copyright 2015 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Mistyharvill
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    Mistyharvill - October 07, 2012 9:04 pm
    I don't see what you guys are waiting for. Dive down and find him. You know that with steal. Toe boots a full Harnis and that ever else they use to strap themselves to the bridge with that its going to weigh him down. I just think that the paper saying there not sure when or if there going to continue the search is messed up. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.
  2. whispr
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    whispr - October 08, 2012 7:58 am
    As you said, all that gear weighed him down... there is no point risking more lives for a recovery mission. If there were a chance of rescue, I have no doubt that there would have been many brave volunteers whom you could not have pulled from the water.
  3. tdn reader
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    tdn reader - October 08, 2012 8:03 am
    They are waiting for safe conditions, which in that area, are likely to be nonexistent. Search & Rescue is a team comprised of volunteers and they do a fabulous job and risk their lives often. To ask them to put themselves in extreme amounts of danger to recover a body is foolish. As tragic as it is, the recovery of the body does not trump the safety of SAR. One life lost is more than enough. My condolences to the family.
  4. ItsMrBiG
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    ItsMrBiG - October 08, 2012 10:52 am
    That section of the river is narrow and deep which equates to very dangerous.
  5. KnewBee
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    KnewBee - October 08, 2012 1:09 pm
    Frankly, I'm not surprised at all that this happened. I live on the Oregon side of the bridge and drive into Longview almost daily (I was on the bridge on Sunday when police were arriving). During this year's construction I have been floored at how poorly planned work has been, how cavalier most of the workers on the bridge seem to be, and most of all - shocked by the lack of traffic control and visibly lackadaisical workers on Sundays. It's a shame someone lost their life to this.
  6. tracy
    Report Abuse
    tracy - October 08, 2012 8:35 pm
    knewbee
    i think you should know what your talking about before you run your mouth. i know the owner and the workers of that bridge. if it was so unsafe osha would of shut them down.
  7. Kelsogal22
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    Kelsogal22 - October 08, 2012 9:36 pm
    My husband is one of the rescue divers who responded. My heart goes out to the family of this man. The Columbia river is a dangerous river to dive in, there is a lot of debri as well as the current. Had the divers gone in, there was a high risk that they would not come out. It tore their hearts out to not be able to go in, but they had to do what was right for their own safety.
  8. RDRAY
    Report Abuse
    RDRAY - October 10, 2012 9:01 pm
    I drive back and forth over the bridge 5 day's a week. Each day I see workers climbing on the bridge without their lanyards attached to a safety device. Today was the first time that I had actually seen one worker climbing up the girder using an attached lanyard. To bad it takes a tragedy to make others start thinking about their own safety.
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