Workers Fall Into Hole At Water Reclamation Plant

UPDATED 04/21/11 3:35 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — It took him almost a year to get back to work.

Now, a southwest suburban construction worker is battling brain injuries suffered on the job in an early morning construction accident.

Two workers are in the hospital after falling down a hole just after 7:30 a.m. at the Calumet Water Reclamation District Plant, at 400 E. 130th St., where a major construction project is underway.

As CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, one of the workers, Jeff Andrews, 50, got this job after trying for months to find work in a soft economy.

“We’re all very close and we can’t lose him; we can’t lose him,” said Andrews’ sister, Tammy Booe. “For crying out loud, he hasn’t worked in 10 months. He’s a cement man and there hasn’t been work for him.”

Andrews is fighting to recover from serious head injuries suffered after he fell into a muddy hole 20 feet deep.

“They’re just allowing the family to go back there now, but he is sedated,” said Andrews’ other sister, Megan Charniak. “And he has multiple brain injuries, skull fractures, tubes in his lungs and he’s on a ventilator.”

Doctors want to perform surgery, but are waiting for Andrews’ condition to stabilize.

Firefighters say Andrews was at the top of a ladder, when he slipped and fell atop a co-worker, who was at the bottom.

Paramedics administered advanced life support, and brought in a special rig called a “stoke basket” to lift the men out of the hole.

Andrews was airlifted to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where his five siblings are gathering to watch, support and pray.

“He needs a lot of prayer,” said Booe. “He needs a lot of prayer. If God wants to leave him alone, leave him with us, it would be good.”

Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff described just how the accident took place.

“One was at the top of the ladder (and) slipped. It was very muddy back there. It was clay; it was very slippery,” Hoff said. “He slipped and took a fall down the ladder. He just grazed off the other individual.”

The second injured worker has not been identified.

  • Robbie

    We feel so bad for this workers who suffered so much and their relatives are so worried about their health.
    This people had been out of work for a long time and when they found something to do in this soft economy… then this happens.
    Besides the Water Reclamation Plant smells so bad. Just for the smell they should get paid double of what they had been promised.
    Now are they gona sue them? And for how much?

    • Kate

      actually that water plant does not smell. I have been there. Even if it did, that’s a ridiculous idea. plenty of people work smelly jobs, doesn’t mean they should get double.

  • Sammie

    I am a construction worker at the same job as Jeff. We were all shaken and devastated by this incident. I did not know Jeff personally but have heard that he is a good man and hard working union man. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jeff and his family at this time and hope that he recovers fully. The conditions on this job are not the best and it really is not a surprise that something like this happened. It is very muddy and slippery and there should have been some other measures taken to make sure something like this didn’t happen. But you know how it is, work as hard and as fast as you can so you can try to keep your job. Contractors have you where they want you. They know everyone is hurting for money and they take advantage. This is not the first fall on this jobsite. One man fell off an extension ladder and was impaled with rebar through his face. There was also a fatality. One man was crushed by a bobcat because he was in a rush to get the job done. Contractors need to care more about the workers and less about how much money their making. My prayers are with the Jeff and his family.

    • HP

      I sympathize with the family and pray for this man’s recovery, let me say this first.

      Now, as a Construction worker for 20+ years, it is partially the employees job to make sure they are safe. If you are a union employee, shouldn’t the union you pay dues to be informed of unsafe conditions? How about OSHA? Laying all the blame on the Contractor makes zero sense and is the union attitude I have come to expect. Take no responsibility for your own work or actions. Someone else is to blame.

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