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Bridge Worker Lands Feet First in Fall

Thursday, February 27, 2014

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Thiago Santos, 29, probably has eight lives left.

He used the first one to land, cat like, on his feet after falling 25 feet this week from the landmark Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City, NJ.

Contrary to initial news reports that said Santos had broken no bones in the fall, an Occupational Safety and Health Admninistration spokeswoman said Wednesday (Feb. 26) that he had, in fact, broken both legs.

Santos, of Newark, NJ, works for Petric & Associates, a painting contractor based in Newfoundland, NJ. About 9:30 a.m. Sunday (Feb. 23), the crew was installing shielding around the skyway to catch tools or falling debris.

The prep work preceded a $1 billion, two-year bridge deck replacement project that is set to begin April 12.

Pulaski Skyway
U.S. Department of the Interior

The General Pulaski bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places and, for years, was part of Tony Soprano's commute.

Santos was working under the span when he "suddenly fell" to the pavement below, John Dee, a spokesman for the state Department or Transportation, told the the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

A foreman saw Santos land on his feet, then fall to his knees, the newspaper reported.


EMTs at the scene "carefully immobilized" Santos and took him to Jersey City Medical Center, where he underwent "a battery of tests," hospital spokesman Mark Rabson told the news outlet.

Pulaski Skyway
Wikipedia Commons / SPUI

Santos fell from below the northbound lanes, which will close in April for 24 months.

Police at the scene described Santos as being in an "extreme amount of pain." Later, he was reported in stable condition and talking at the hospital, but was "still under careful observation," according to Rabson.

OSHA said Wednesday that Santos had suffered two broken legs and that it was investigating the accident.

Petric & Associates declined Wednesday (Feb. 26)  to comment.

Bridge Rehab

At 82 years old, the Pulaski Skyway is included in the National Register of Historic Places because of its age, length and unique design features. The two-span bridge rises high (135 feet at high tide) over the Meadowlands and connects Newark to Jersey City.

It also serves as an express link for cars and buses to and from the Holland Tunnel.

NJ DOT is preparing 40,000 motorists a day for detours during the bridge project.

But the 3.5-mile steel namesake of Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski is probably most famous for its cameo appearance in the opening credits of every episode of The Sopranos. It is also regularly rumored to be the last resting place of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa.

The bridge's construction was marred by 14 accidental worker deaths and labor violence that left one worker dead, others beaten, and one temporarily paralyzed. Opened in 1932 and last rehabilitated in 1984, the bridge is need of major repair due to longtime deterioration.

Beginning April 12, the redecking work will close the bridge's northbound travel lanes, detouring about 40,000 vehicles daily.

The general contractor on the project is CCA (China Construction America Inc.) Civil, the U.S. arm of one of China's largest building companies. The project contract award last year drew fire from competitors who alleged that CCA was state-owned or -controlled. CCA denied the accusations.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Fall protection; OSHA; Painting Contractor; Rehabilitation/Repair

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