A worker on a Pennsylvania bridge project survived a 100-foot fall from the bridge into a containment net on Monday.
The man, identified as Rick Glover, 48, of Dilliner, PA, suffered several broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, a punctured lung and a fractured scapula after he fell from an enclosed area under the Donora-Monessen Bridge over the Monogahela River. He was reported in fair condition yesterday at a Pittsburgh hospital.
Glover was abrasive-blast cleaning girders in preparation for a painting project when he somehow slipped and fell from scaffolding underneath the bridge, “narrowly missing an I-beam and a half-inch-thick steel cable," Mon Valley paramedic Sean Cummings told reporters.
Glover works for J.F. Shea Construction, based in Walnut, CA. News reports said he had 15-20 years of experience.
A Shea Construction spokesman declined comment yesterday on the incident. No Pennsylvania Department of Transportation personnel were on the bridge at the time of the incident, so the agency also declined comment, a spokeswoman said yesterday.
Although rescue workers responded within 15 minutes of the 4:20 p.m. incident, the rescue itself was complex, due to Glover’s position on a concrete pier at the center of the bridge, about 20 feet from shore.
Bernie Johnson, the assistant director of the Mon Valley EMS, described the effort as a “very technical rescue.”
"The thing to remember about technical rescue is it takes time for us to rig our safety lines to make sure that we're not going to do any more harm to the patient prior to moving him, so that's what the delay in getting him down was," Johnson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
He said tactical rescue teams from several nearby emergency medical services that specialize in “high angle incidents” were called in. Those crews set up the rigging that was used to extract Glover, who was conscious when rescued, the Tribune-Review reported.
News accounts varied as to the distance of the fall. Some reported it as 50 feet, but most said 100 feet, as did Cummings, the paramedic at the scene.
The $19.9 million bridge rehabilitation project began in March 2009 and is scheduled to be complete Nov. 3. The project includes cleaning and coating the steel superstructure with a three-coat organic zinc-rich system. The existing coatings contain lead.
The project will include a new bridge deck, various structural repairs to the substructure and superstructure, and the application of a new bridge coating system.