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Elevator mechanic killed at site of new 49ers stadium

Tuesday, June 11, 2013By Richard Alexander
 The $1.3 billion 49ers' stadium still under construction was shut down Tuesday morning when an elevator mechanic was killed in an industrial accident on site. 

According to a preliminary report by Cal-OSHA, the mechanic was standing on a ladder at the bottom of an elevator shaft when he was hit from above by an elevator counter weight. This was the first serious accident that has happened at the site since construction began last April. More than 1,000 workers were sent home Tuesday and will be given another day off to grieve for their co-worker, 63-year-old Donald White, who was employed by Schindler Elevator, whose U.S. headquarters are in Morristown, New Jersey.  

Construction could resume as early as Thursday, pending Cal-OSHA approval.  

It is reported that Mr. White had been working on elevators for over 40 years and was very experienced and knew the risks and dangers of this type of construction. Schindler-Elevator has not commented on the accident. 

The 49ers are working to finish the stadium project before two of the August 2014 pre-season games and other planned events at the new venue before the first regular-season games in September 2014. Last month, the organization was awarded the 50th Super Bowl, in 2016, to be played at the new stadium. 

The 49ers issued a statement Tuesday: "the 49ers organization was deeply saddened to learn this morning of the news at the construction site. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers affected by this tragedy. The 49ers family has lost a teammate today." 

The city of Santa Clara also issued a statement expressing "our sincerest sympathies to the family and relatives of the worker who lost his life." 

The accident was reported around 6:50 a.m. on the ground floor of the stadium.. Santa Clara police, firefighters and Cal OSHA were then contacted, which is routine in these circumstances. 

A regional operations manager for Schindler Elevator told Cal-OSHA officials how White was apparently killed, according to Cal-OSHA spokesman Greg Siggins. 

In 2011, Schindler Elevator was fined $18,000 after an apprentice elevator mechanic fell about 19 feet down a shaft while doing work related to the installation of a new hydraulic elevator in Palo Alto. Cal-OSHA determined it could have been avoided had the apprentice been wearing fall protection equipment, according to a report. The worker survived the fall but suffered several broken bones, including a vertebrae and pelvis. 

Siggins said his agency has six months to complete its investigation of Tuesday's death.

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