Construction worker falls 23 stories to his death at KC’s convention hotel

A construction worker was killed Thursday morning when he fell 23 stories at the Loews convention hotel building site near downtown Kansas City, according to the Kansas City Fire Department.

Emergency workers responded about 10 a.m. to the hotel that’s under construction in the 1500 block of Baltimore Avenue, said Deputy Chief and Chief Fire Marshal Jimmy Walker, a spokesman for the fire department.

The worker was pronounced dead at the scene.

“We are sad to report there has been a fatality on our project at 15th and Baltimore,” Emily Gallagher, a spokeswoman for JE Dunn Construction, the project’s general contractor, said in an email.

“We are working closely with the employer of the deceased, who is one of our subcontractors, as well as the police, as they investigate. Our thoughts are with the deceased’s family at this time.”

The company estimates that the worker actually fell from the 18th floor, but no one saw him fall, Gallagher said. She said the man was working on the 8th floor and it’s not known why he was on an upper floor.

Further details of what led up to the fall were not immediately available.

JE Dunn has safety measures in place to prevent falls, including guard rails, barricades and nets. There are also very stringent safety requirements for workers to wear protective equipment, she said.

Groundbreaking on the $325 million project was held just a little over a year ago. The 800-room hotel is expected to open in the spring of 2020.

Once completed, the building will stand 24 stories high and will connect with the Kansas City Convention Center. The hotel, which will be named Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel, is expected to create 600 permanent jobs.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into the man’s fall, together with JE Dunn as the general contractor on the project, an OSHA spokesman said in an email.

OSHA will not release any further information until it has finished its investigation, the spokesman said. By law, the agency has six months to complete it.

In 2009, one worker was killed and another injured in an accident on a JE Dunn construction site where the general contractor was building the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, two blocks from the current hotel project in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.

The two men were in the bucket of a 100-foot tall JLG Lift when it fell away from the building and landed across a platform of steel beams.

As in Thursday’s incident, the two men worked for a subcontractor rather than for JE Dunn directly.

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Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.