| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Learn while you earn.

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Flash Flood Claims Worker in Sewer

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

More items for Health & Safety

Comment | More

A worker who may have removed his harness to reach a tight space on a sewer relining project was then swept to his death by flash flood waters in Chicago.

Gustavo Briceno Jr., 25, enjoyed his work but feared its hazards, his sister-in-law told the Chicago Tribune. "He loved his job, but he said that he worried something would happen to him," Imelda Alanis, 31.

Gustavo Briceno family Gustavo Briceno and wife
Family photo via CBS

Gustavo Briceno, 25, left a wife and three young children. "That was his biggest fear, to die down there," his widow told CBS.

"He always said his workers would come up first in an emergency, and he would come up last."

Flash Floods

Briceno and another worker were inside a 30-inch diameter pipe inside the sewer about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 18) when the area was hit by storms and flash flooding, authorities said. The men worked for Chicago-based Kenny Construction Co., a general contractor and subsidiary of Granite Construction Inc.

Briceno, a crew foreman, had been with the company since 2007.

The other worker was strapped into his harness and was pulled to safety, but Briceno had removed his harness to reach a confined space and was carried off by the water, news outlets said.

Briceno's team was working on an ongoing city project to line an old sewer to preserve its integrity, Water Management Department spokesman Tom LaPorte told the Chicago Tribune.

A search using a robotic camera ensued. Meanwhile, Chicago Police Department helicopter and marine units searched the Chicago River.

Briceno's body was found about two hours later, about a block away, clad in a wet suit.

'That Was His Biggest Fear'

Briceno's wife, Sandra Hernandez, told CBS Chicago on Thursday evening that she had learned about her husband's death from a Facebook post and had not heard from his employer at that point.

“This is not happening. I can’t believe it. I cannot,” Hernandez told CBS. "That was his biggest fear, to die down there.”

Kenny Construction Corp.
Kenny Construction Co.

Kenny Construction's Underground Group performs pipe, sewer and manhole lining, rehabilitation and other services.

Kenny Construction says that Briceno had listed his father (also a former Kenny employee) as his next of kin, and that the elder Briceno had been notified and brought to the scene immediately, where he remained all night.

'Deeply Saddened'

Kenny Construction said in a statement that Briceno's death had had "a deep effect on everyone at Kenny," especially Briceno's colleagues in the "close-knit" Underground Group. The company's Underground Group focuses on trenchless and underground utility construction, performing pipe, sewer and manhole lining, rehabilitation and other services.

"The safety of our employees is our number-one priority," the company said. "Kenny has a long-standing, well- established safety program that encompasses training, detailed safe work plans including job hazard analyses for specific types of work and regular inspections."

The company said every underground worker "is certified in confined space training in accordance with the Occupational Safety Healthy and Administration Standards."

"All foreman [sic] and general foreman [sic] are each OSHA 30 hour certified and receive ongoing training as well. They are trained in a complete safety program that encompasses training, detailed safe work plans including Job Hazard Analyses for specific types of work, and regular inspections."

The company said that it monitors weather closely and that its protocol requires employees "to step away from the project any time there is a change in conditions."

Kenny Construction says it is "the only construction firm to win the National Safety Council's Green Cross for safety."

The company would not comment on whether Briceno had been wearing fall protection at the time of the incident.

Investigation Underway

OSHA has opened an investigation into the incident.

OSHA has inspected Kenny Construction several times since the company was cited and fined $175,000 for three deaths during a six-month period from 1996 to 1997, OSHA spokesman Scott Allen told the Tribune.

Since then, the company has been cited only for minor violations, he said.

"I would put them in pretty good standing with OSHA in the past 10 years," Allen told the newspaper.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fatalities; General contractors; Health and safety; Linings; OSHA; Pipeline; Sewer systems

Comment from Rand Clavelli, (9/24/2013, 3:59 PM)

30 inch hole / why not a sleeve replacement. this summer to many losses.

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.


The Next Generation
of Blasting

• Lightest
• Coolest
• Most Comfortable
• Most Dependable

Nationwide Overspray
Profession Overspray Removal Services

The Finest Name in Safe Overspray Removal. We specialize in removing all contaminants from any surface. Family Owned and Operated for 33 years! Fully insured. Satisfaction is guaranteed.

SABRE Autonomous Solutions
Safety, Productivity, Quality. Robotic Blasting

Learn how this simple to use, field deployed, automatic robot is eliminating hazards in major confined, cluttered and complex surface preparation projects.

Park Derochie Coatings Ltd.

Coatings          Fireproofing
Sandblasting     Scaffolding
Metalizing           Insulation

• Shop & Field Services
• SSPC Certified
• NACE Inspectors on staff
• New Construction &
  Maintenance Programs

Sidewinder/Persyst Enterprises, Inc.
The Sidewinder Model M2 Solvent Recycler

Combat the rising cost of gunwash, thinners, acetone & more while drastically reducing waste disposal coat.

Absolute Equipment/Grand Rental Station

We have Tier 4 Equipment including Air Compressors & Generators for Sale & Rent! Your job may now require Tier-4. or Call 412-931-6655.

HippWrap Containment
Containment and Environmental Protection

For over 29 years HIPPWRAP CONTAINMENT has pioneered the field of Shrink-Wrap Containment. This is what we do.. How can we help you! 800-362-HIPP (4477)

NACE International, The Corrosion Society
Get Hands-on Experience

In NACE’s CP Program, learn the techniques and procedures for testing, evaluating, and designing galvanic and impressed current CP systems.

Detail Masters
Overspray Removal

We offer professional, turnkey service and unparalleled quality!
Our process can save hundreds— even thousands of dollars. It's fast, environmentally safe and 100% guaranteed.

Vector Technologies Ltd.
The Original Performance Proven Vacuum Solutions

Vecloader DV 145, 350hp 6200 CFM & 28’’hg. For those big jobs, choose Vector for the most powerful trailer mounted vacuum in the industry today. 800-832-4010, 414-247-7100.

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2016, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail