Drilling accident near Aspen kills construction worker
ASPEN – A 39-year-old construction worker died Thursday after being spun around and mangled by a drilling rig doing reinforcement work on the backside of a condominium complex near Aspen Highlands.
Because relatives had not been notified as of 7 p.m. Thursday, the name of the victim, who is from Minnesota, was not released. He was part of a crew working for Hayward Baker Geotechnical Construction, a national firm that has an office in Broomfield.
Construction workers at the Le Chamonix condominiums, located at 1501 Maroon Creek Road, called Aspen Ambulance around 3:30 p.m. to report the accident.
The crane-supported geological drilling rig reportedly had been malfunctioning; at one point it stopped, but started again. That’s when the worker’s fall-protection cord became tangled with the drill bit, some 30 to 40 feet in length. The cord, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Renee Rayton said, was like a “Slinky” that was hooked to the victim and onto the drill.
“His cord got wrapped up, and it kept twisting him,” she said.
Workers could not immediately stop the drill, which spun the victim for no more than one minute, and no less that 30 seconds, Rayton said. They eventually shut down the drill by turning off the generator that powered it, about 30 yards away, Rayton said.
The man was unconscious and pronounced dead at the scene. His body was mangled to the point that it was nearly severed in half. It was not removed from the site until after 5:30 p.m. following a scene inspection from a coroner, deputies and members of the Aspen Fire Protection District.
Employees on site were visibly grieving for their fallen co-worker.
“I was right next to him,” one worker said, his voice shaking. “But I don’t want to talk about it.”
Members of Aspen Counseling Center arrived shortly after the incident to provide grief aid for some of the workers.
“The guys are going to take two or three days to compress this,” Deputy Michael Kendrick said. “It’s bad. It’s bad from the standpoint that it’s tough to look at and see what happens to a co-worker. It’s going to be difficult.”
Members of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are expected to review the scene Friday, Rayton said. Officials at the Broomfield office of Hayward Baker were not available for comment after business hours Thursday.
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