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Worker dies at White City construction site

 Posted: 2:00 AM January 25, 2014

A White City man died this week while working on a construction site at the Department of Veterans Affairs' Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City.

The man's name has not yet been released, but his age was 42, said Charles Ragan, president of Vancouver, Wash.-based construction company Global Pacific Environmental, for whom the man was a construction supervisor.

"Our preliminary description was that he was pinned to a wall by a dump truck," said Melanie Mesaros, a spokesperson for Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is investigating the incident.

The incident occurred at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mesaros said.

"We are currently working with Oregon OSHA, cooperating to determine the cause surrounding the accident," Ragan said. "We have a real tight-knit bunch of people down here, so it was a real loss. ... It was a very freakish thing."

No one else was injured in the incident, Ragan said.

"It was just totally an accident, no equipment malfunctions discovered, as of yet," Ragan said. "It's really tough ... he was a good friend."

A woman visiting the facility Tuesday for treatment said the accident occurred in front of Building 201 at the former domiciliary, which houses a pharmacy, primary care facility and other services.

Global Pacific Environmental is working under contract for Texas-based Burton Construction Inc., which won a bid to renovate Building 201, according to documents on its website.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said a "big white cab dump truck" was facing the building when she witnessed investigators working at the scene.

A manager with Burton Construction, who wished to remain anonymous, said the accident "wasn't a truck rollover, but it was involving a moving vehicle."

Typically, federal OSHA would investigate incidents at the facility, because it is federally funded, but Oregon OSHA took on this matter as it involved a contractor, Mesaros said.

"We'll do our work and decide whether any violations occurred ... if there were violations, the outcome could be a citation from us," she said. "We never call things freak accidents, we always try to figure out what happened, what led up to the incident."

Mesaros said OSHA will examine all of the equipment that may have been involved in the incident as well as other evidence, and conduct interviews with witnesses and employees before determining what exactly led up to the death.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.


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