Trial Begins in Death of Worker Killed During Bridge Construction

The lawyer for the victim's family has alleged that work crews made no attempt to rescue two workers after the barge they were tethered to rolled into the river.

📅   Wed March 30, 2016 - West Edition


Suarez, 55, of Manor, drowned Jan. 28, 2014, after a hydraulic lift he and another worker, Terry Watson, were strapped to rolled from a modular barge into the Brazos River as the men worked on the bridge.
Suarez, 55, of Manor, drowned Jan. 28, 2014, after a hydraulic lift he and another worker, Terry Watson, were strapped to rolled from a modular barge into the Brazos River as the men worked on the bridge.

The Waco Tribune is reporting that testimony is set to begin Tuesday morning in Houston in the trial of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a construction worker who drowned in 2014 while working on the pedestrian bridge to Baylor University's McLane Stadium.

Jose Dario Suarez's wife, two daughters, son and mother are seeking damages from nine companies that played various roles in the construction of the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Pedestrian Bridge or the equipment used to build it across the Brazos River, linking Baylor's campus to McLane Stadium.

Baylor was named as a defendant in the original pleadings, but 151st State District Judge Mike Engelhart dismissed the school from the lawsuit in June.

The remaining defendants include Flexifloat Construction Systems; Austin Commercial Inc.; Austin Bridge and Road; Derr and Isbell Construction Inc.; Flintco; Genie Industries Inc.; Terex Corp.; Robishaw Engineering; and Core Safety.

Suarez, 55, of Manor, drowned Jan. 28, 2014, after a hydraulic lift he and another worker, Terry Watson, were strapped to rolled from a modular barge into the Brazos River as the men worked on the bridge.

Watson was able to free himself and swam to the surface, where he was pulled from the cold river.

Vuk Vujasinovic, a Houston attorney who represents the Suarez family, said he expects the trial to last three to four weeks.

Vujasinovic has alleged in pretrial motions that work crews made no attempt to rescue the two workers after the barge they were tethered to rolled into the river.

Not only did no one try to rescue the men, crews continued working while Suarez's body lay on the bottom of the river because the $266 million project was four months behind schedule and time was of the essence, Vujasinovic has alleged.

“The fact that they kept working on the bridge even while the body was still in the river supports the family's claim that the workers were being rushed to try to keep up with the schedule,” Vujasinovic said.

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