LOS ANGELES, Calif. – An electrician who plunged to his death Thursday while working on a Los Angeles skyscraper was not supposed to be above the third floor and had removed his hardhat before falling 53 floors, construction company officials said.
The man, who was in his second day on the project, fell some 800 feet from the unfinished Wilshire Grand Center around noon and either hit the back edge of a passing car or struck nearby. Once finished, the building will be the tallest in the West
It happened at one of the busiest times of day at one of the busiest intersections in downtown Los Angeles, when the streets were thronged with people.
He had taken off his hardhat and had not been wearing a safety harness because it wasn’t required for the bottom floors he was working on, said Lisa Gritzner, spokeswoman for Turner Construction, the main contractor on the project.
She could say no more about what may have caused the man to fall or why he was on the upper floor. His name has not been released.
Los Angeles Times photographer Mel Melcon, who was on assignment at the building, said he heard the man hit the ground.
“No one thought it was a body,” Melcon told his paper. “We heard no screams.”
The electrician hit the car near the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street, fire officials said. However, the car appeared to be undamaged. A rear side panel was spattered with blood.
James Armstrong III was walking to a nearby bank just after the fall when he saw police helping the driver.
“She was hysterical,” waving her hands in the air and holding her head, he said. But she did not seem to be hurt, Armstrong said.
The woman was taken to a hospital to be examined, fire officials said.
The 73-story skyscraper will be about 1,100 feet tall, or nearly a quarter-mile, when it’s completed. A ceremony was held earlier this month when the top beam was hoisted into place on the 73rd floor. The $1 billion office and hotel tower being developed by Korean Airlines Co. Ltd. is expected to open in early 2017.
The building is near the Staples Center arena where the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers play and is at the centre of the bustling and fast-growing financial district of downtown.
There were barricades around the edge of the building and other safety measures in place, said Chris Martin, CEO of Martin Project Management, which is overseeing the building.
All of the building’s 891 workers had undergone training, Martin said.
“There’s safety training for every worker on the job, and certain locations there’s very specialized training. So these are all smart people,” Martin said. “We had no injuries up to this date.”
Gritzner said the company had found all safety protocols were followed.
Work was shut down for the day.