Scaffolding collapse kills Van Wert man
Sunday, June 10, 2007 8:00 PM
From staff and wire reports
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A Van Wert man was killed Saturday when he fell approximately 40 feet at Castleton Square in Indianapolis, Ind.
According to reports, Shane Pruett, 29, of Van Wert, died shortly after the fall from severe head trauma and other injuries. Officials with the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration are looking into the incident, which occurred at Castleston Square, Indiana's largest mall.
Indianapolis police Sgt. Matthew Mount said that four workers were working on a project at the mall when they noticed a pin had become dislodged on the scaffolding that held them up.
When Abe Mallis and Pruett went to replace the pin, their combined weight was apparently too great and a cable holding up the east end of the scaffolding snapped, causing that portion of the structure to collapse.
Mount said the victims fell 40 feet onto a mixture of gravel, cement and hard ground.
"The two individuals' safety cables were not fastened in the correct manner and they fell with the scaffolding," Mount said.
The two other workers ended up dangling in the air on their cables, which had been properly fastened, he said. Neither worker was injured and they were soon pulled to safety.
Mallis was critically injured in the fall and sustained head and chest injuries. He is currently listed in critical, but stable condition at Methodist Hospital.
Authorities said Saturday's accident was the second scaffolding accident this year at the construction project.
The accident occurred at approximately 11 a.m. Saturday morning. Authorities at the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Messer Construction Co. will keep the site closed through Monday to look for answers. "We've been asking everyone questions; we're still trying to figure out what exactly happened," said Tim Steigerwald, vice president of Cincinnati-based Messer and head of its Indiana office. "Safety is our No. 1 priority."
Steigerwald said all of the workers should have been wearing safety harnesses. "The expectation is that we put safe plans in place and that everybody follows those procedures," Steigerwald said.
Derrick Eagans, a plasterer who is a friend of Mallis', said he had just arrived at the mall to meet him for lunch when he heard of the tragedy. Eagans said plasterers sometimes take off their safety harnesses to move more freely while working.
"You get comfortable up there, and you think you'll never get hurt." The men were constructing the $11 million, 70,000-square-foot AMC Theatre complex at the mall, 6020 E. 82nd St. No word was immediately available on whether the accident would delay a planned September opening of the theater.
The entire mall project is set for completion in time for the holiday season, according to leasing information from Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group.