Authorities are investigating the death of a New Jersey painter who perished in a fall Sunday from the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge in Maine, where he was working.
Ercio Gasques, 29, of Newark, NJ, was the second employee of Odyssey Contracting, of Houston, PA, to die in a bridge fall in the last 14 months.
Gasques was working on the bridge in eastern Maine when he fell about 2:15 p.m. Sunday, according to the Hancock Count Sheriff’s Department, which responded to the scene.
“Gasques suffered massive head trauma from the fall and died from his injuries while en route to the hospital,” reported Lt. Tim Cote of the Sheriff’s Department.
Details of the accident remained sketchy Tuesday (Dec. 7), as a snowstorm after the accident dumped 18 inches of snow on the area, rendering it temporarily inaccessible, said Bill Coffin, area director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is investigating.
News reports said Gasques fell 40 feet from the bridge and landed on rocks. There was no information about what he had been doing or what type of fall protection he had.
Previous Citations, Fatality
Odyssey Contracting has been cited before on the Deer Isle bridge project. In August, OSHA issued a single serious citation to the company for transporting a crew of four in the back of a pickup truck to and from the work site, Coffin said. The citation carried a proposed penalty of $1,500.
In October 2009, another painter for Odyssey Contracting (also known as Odyssey Painting Co.) fell 124 feet to his death while working on the McKees Rock Bridge in McKees Rock, PA. Michael L'Hereaux, 54, of Ohio was conducting abrasive blasting under the Pittsburgh end of the bridge and fell from a two-point suspension scaffold.
The scaffold gave way when L'Hereaux accidentally turned his blast equipment on a cable that was holding the scaffold, an OSHA investigation later found.
The blast medium cut through the cable. L'Hereaux had been issued a safety harness but was not wearing it at the time, an OSHA spokeswoman said Tuesday.
In that case, the company eventually admitted to five citations (reduced from six) and a fine of $12,600 (reduced from $16,800) after an informal settlement with OSHA.
Stavros Semanderes, owner of Odyssey Contracting, did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment.
Odyssey is working under a $9,348,250 contract by the Maine Department of Transportation to recoat the suspension bridge, which was built in 1939. The bridge spans Eggemoggin Reach and features a 1,088-foot-long main span. The contract also includes performing various repairs.