CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Three people are dead after scaffolding collapsed at a construction site just outside of Uptown Charlotte Monday morning, the Charlotte Fire Department reports.
Fire officials said the incident happened in the 700 block of E. Morehead Street, which is near the intersection of Morehead Street and Euclid Avenue on the south side of Interstate 277.
Officials said two other men -- ages 36 and 49 -- were transported to Atrium CMC hospital with minor injuries.
According to officials, the three deceased workers -- ages 26, 43 and 54 -- died after falling 70 feet when the scaffolding collapsed. Investigators have not officially released the names of the victims, but family and friends have identified them.
The mother of Jose Canaco described her son as "a hard-working boy."
Another mother said her oldest son, Jesus Martinez, was "very peaceful and a very loving family man."
Those who knew the third victim, Gilberto Fernandez, said "he had a big heart."
Online fundraisers have been started to help the families of Jose Canaca and Gilberto Fernandez.
Charlotte Fire said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, is investigating, adding that all work on the site has been halted.
Ashley Hawkins, President of Charlotte Metrolina Labor Council said although tragedies like this are rare their union's mission is always to help support the victims' families.
“Most people don’t have common knowledge of worker’s compensation laws, or how OSHA works or where to go from here," Hawkins said. "There’s guidance we can help provide through our resources."
The Charlotte Metrolina Labor Council said its members also work year-round to strengthen safety conditions for workers in all industries.
Chip Darius, president of Safety Priority Consultants and who provides training on scaffolding safety, said the investigation will require a very close examination.
“The investigation will be very thorough in an incident like this," Darius said. "Every piece, every part, every bolt, every nut, every component, who put it together, who was using it, what was being done — all those things will be looked at very closely."
Deadly accident at construction site
According to Darius, the scaffolding used in this incident is called a mast climber. It uses a motor to lift the scaffold platform up and down.
Last year OSHA reported 27 scaffold-related incidents; 16 of those were deadly. One included a deadly scaffold collapse.
While officials did not confirm the name of the company running the site where the incident happened, a sign on the property with the Hanover Company name and logo asks any site visitors to check in at them.
WCNC Charlotte called the number on the sign. The person who answered said OSHA was investigating what happened and that the company would be releasing a statement, likely Tuesday morning. WCNC Charlotte reached out to the Hanover Company and has not heard back. The construction site is expected to remain closed while the OSHA investigation continues.
A rezoning petition linked to the site's address and posted in 2020 on the City of Charlotte website shows plans for a building with 350 multi-family dwelling units.
According to an OSHA Fall Prevention Campaign website, falls are among the leading cause of death in construction. The agency reports out of roughly 1,000 construction-related deaths in 2020, 351 involved falls to a lower level of the site.
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