A construction worker was killed and another was hospitalized Saturday night during Interstate 4 construction in downtown Orlando involving a massive concrete beam.
Construction along the 21-mile overhaul — a project known as the I-4 Ultimate — has been suspended for an investigation, according to Russ Handler, spokesman for the lead contractor, SGL Constructors.
The incident happened around 6:30 p.m. near Sylvia Lane and America Street, just east of the I-4 and State Road 408 intersection, according to Orlando Police Department spokeswoman Lt. Wanda Miglio.
A beam slipped off a piece of equipment and struck two unidentified employees of SGL Constructors, Miglio said.
One worker died at the scene and the other was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center for a head injury, according to Miglio.
The hospitalized worker has since been released and sustained injuries that are not life threatening, Handler said in a statement.
“At this time, our focus is on supporting our employees and the affected families as we deal with this tragic event,” Handler said. “An investigation of the cause of the accident is underway in conjunction with the local authorities.”
The employee killed was the fifth worker who died since construction began in 2015 on the $2-billion-plus overhaul of Central Florida’s busiest road.
In February, 59-year-old James Hardy Mills died after a half-ton, 20-foot steel pipe he was trying to load onto a truck fell and hit him.
On Sunday morning, workers in safety vests took video and photos of an enormous crane at the site. It was parked in a position with its boom, fitted with a steel-cable harness, angling over S.R. 408 spans and a badly damaged personnel hoist.
The partly toppled hoist was next to a concrete beam resting on the ground. The hoist’s personnel platform was extensively crushed.[Popular on OrlandoSentinel.com] Hurricane Lorenzo losing strength but gains speed as it aims for Azores retaining Category 2 winds »
Overhead was a gap among other concrete beams connected to bridge piers and largely identical to the one resting on the ground. Three other personnel hoists were parked nearby and one of them was positioned with its personnel platform on the ground next to the beam.
As one of the largest active road-construction projects in the nation, the overhaul of the 60-year-old freeway is a public-private partnership, in which taxpayers and the builder are co-investors in construction.
Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Olson said in a statement that the agency “expects a full accounting” from SGL Constructors on the cause of the fatal accident.
“Furthermore FDOT will require corrective measures be put in place to prevent further injuries and deaths associated with this project,” Olson said. “This includes an after action plan for increased safety and renewed emphasis that the contractor continues enforcing a culture of safety during all aspects of the I-4 Ultimate project.”
The $2.3 billion project is adding toll lanes along a 21-mile section from north of State Road 434 in Seminole, through Orlando and to west of Florida’s Turnpike in Orange County.
Earlier this year, the private consortium rebuilding the interstate, I-4 Mobility Partners, reported that it was $100 million over budget and nearly 260 days beyond the originally scheduled completion in early 2021.
The partnership blamed weather, design changes and friction with local governments.
The state Department of Transportation has not disclosed details from its negotiations over cost and time overruns.