Workplace accident kills one in Old Town

05/30/2014 9:35 PM

05/30/2014 9:35 PM

A 40-year-old man died in a workplace accident Friday morning in the Old Town district of downtown Wichita, police said.

The man was riding in a freight elevator inside a building undergoing renovation in the 100 block of North Rock Island when he fell shortly before 10:30 a.m. and his head became pinned between the wall of the elevator shaft and the outside edge of the elevator, Lt. E.J. Bastian said.

He died instantly, Bastian said.

Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the city of Wichita’s elevator inspection team were at the scene of the accident inside the building at 141 N. Rock Island, which once was home to Club Suede and is now being converted into residential quarters.

Rick McCafferty, executive vice president of Key Construction, said the victim worked for a subcontractor.

“They’ve worked with us a number of years,” McCafferty said. “They’re a very safe, responsible subcontractor.”

From what he has been told, McCafferty said, the victim and a second man were riding in the cab of the freight elevator when the accident occurred. As the second man was operating the electric lift, the victim apparently suffered an intense coughing fit and lost his balance.

He was killed before the elevator could be stopped.

Authorities are withholding the victim’s identity pending the notification of relatives.

“Our hearts go out to the family in this tragedy,” McCafferty said. “From what we can tell, it was a freak accident.”

Crews had been renovating the space for a month or so, he said.

Bastian said the two men in the elevator were the only workers inside the building at the time of the accident. The others were outside on break.

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