Family of construction worker killed in bridge accident speaks - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Family of construction worker killed in bridge accident speaks

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A construction accident near the second bridge to Oak Island has left one dead and another person seriously injured.

Wednesday around noon, an entire girder collapsed at the new Oak Island Bridge, which will be a new route from SR 1104 (Beach Drive) to NC 211.  It is the second bridge to Oak Island.

Jose Montalvo of Sumter, South Carolina died in the accident.  Reports say one of the beams holding up the bridge fell.  Montalvo was strapped to a beam for safety but went down when that beam grazed another. He was with the construction company for seven years and is survived by a wife and three children.

"My mother and I were both hoping that he would still be alive," said Maria Velazquez.

Velasquez wants you to know more about her relative and next-door neighbor.

"I had known him for many years and he was a very good person," she says. "It hurts me. It hurts me for his family. It hurts me for his kids."

The Mexican native and his family had lived in Sumter for several years.
He commuted home from North Carolina every weekend.
Velazquez got limited news about the accident while she was at work.

"We didn't know very much because they couldn't get his body out from where he fell," she says.

Velazquez says Montalvo had worked in construction several years and never had an accident. Now she's concerned for close friends and family still working in the industry.

"It terrifies me that something like that could happen to them," she says.

The holidays will be hard for the Montalvo family.

"They're going to suffer morally and they're going to suffer economically. His wife didn't work, she was home with three kids," she says.

While North Carolina officials work to find out what went wrong at the accident site, Maria Velazquez wants to send a message to other construction workers.

"Be extremely cautious, because you never know what could happen," she says.

Ricky Bryant, of Supply, North Carolina, was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center and is listed in stable condition.  He has been with the company for ten years.  He is married with two children.

Roberto Hernandez was also involved in the accident and was slightly injured.

The workers were employed by Lee Construction of the Carolinas.  According to its website, the company has been operating since 1935, working mostly in the southeast.

The construction company is based out of the Charlotte area and has done a variety of highway and bridge construction throughout the Carolinas.

OSHA records reveal two accident investigations at company projects in the past eight years.

In October of 2003, the company was widening I-77 over the Catawba River in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

According to OSHA records, a worker fell off a bridge into the river.  He was not wearing a harness or life vest, which are required when working over water. The worker swam to the side and was okay.

The investigation turned up 5 serious violations, 3 of which were later deleted.  The company was fined $3,375.

In March 2000, OSHA investigated an accident at Lee Construction site in Greer, South Carolina.

One serious violation was found, and the penalty was $1,625.  No other information was available on that incident.

According to an OSHA spokesperson, two accident investigation in ten years is not a lot.  Three serious violations at an accident scene is about average for what investigations find.


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