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Fatal Accident Involved Fork Lift

Nov 13, 2003 | Aspen Times A 20-foot fall off a forklift preceded the death of man at a construction site in Woody Creek Tuesday afternoon.

El Jebel resident Everado Garcia Lopez, 25, was killed in what authorities have deemed an accident. He had been working on the roof of a single-family residence. Two other men were injured in the accident, but officials have not released their names.

The residence is being built at the Circle R Ranch, about 3.5 miles up Woody Creek Road.

According to sheriff’s Investigator Ron Ryan, two workers were standing in a plywood box lifted up to the edge of the roof, 22 feet from the ground, by a telescoping forklift. Ryan said the 4-foot-by-8-foot box was open-aired and open on the side facing the house so the men could work on the roof.

The box also held their tools and materials for the roof, he said. Around 3 p.m. the box fell to the ground, with the workers inside.

“Why the box fell is part of the continuing investigation,” Ryan said.

All three men were employees of European Roofing Designs, a firm with an office in the Aspen Business Center. A roofer in the box with Garcia Lopez was seriously injured, and another employee standing on a balcony below the two roofers was struck when the box fell down.

Rodney Turner, president of the roofing company, was at the job site yesterday afternoon while waiting for an official from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to arrive. Turner said somberly that he wasn’t at the site when the accident occurred.

“We’ve never had an accident before,” he said. “I always tell them to be safe, and I don’t pressure them to be fast.”

The Denver office of OSHA is investigating the accident. The office’s area director, Herb Gibson, said the investigation could take weeks.

“We interview the multiple parties involved, and we look at the equipment, the work site and the training for the workers — all of the things that may play a role in an accident,” Gibson said. “It’s a tragic situation, and our job is to determine the cause of that and prevent future accidents.”

Pat Fenton, president of Fenton Construction, which is the general contractor on the project, said the incident was a tragedy but refused to comment further.

Gibson said after a workplace fatality, OSHA looks into whether any safety and health violations were present at the work site, including the inspection and accident history of the employer. He said that when a violation of OSHA standards is found, a citation is issued when they conclude the case.

But Gibson reiterated that investigations can take weeks.

“We don’t know what occurred and what happened right now,” he said. “We’re collecting lots of information from the parties that were there — the workers, the first responders on the scene and all other people involved as well as information about the grounds and physical things involved.”

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