One dead, 4 hurt in pedestrian bridge collapse at Wake Tech

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Emergency calls for help reveal new details about a deadly construction accident at Wake Tech's Northern Campus.

Thursday morning, workers were pouring concrete on a pedestrian bridge when it suddenly collapsed. One worker died and four others were rushed to WakeMed.

The 911 call log reveals a dispatcher had trouble getting help to the workers.

Caller: "Wake Tech. Wake Tech North. 711 Fox Road, ma'am"

Operator: "What is the address, sir."

Caller: "It's Wake Tech North, 711. What's the address? 7110...North...North Wake Tech."

Operator: "Sir, I'm sorry, I can barely understand you. You said address is 711. What's the street name?"

Caller: "Wake Tech North, Wake Tech North!"

That call came in at 10:14 a.m. First responders say they weren't dispatched until 10:18 a.m.

That back and forth about the address went on for more than two minutes as the operator stressed the need for a correct location to dispatch help. We're told it's protocol for operators to get an address first. Then she was able to ask what had happened.

Caller: "The bridge and construction, somebody fall down. I mean, the bridge fall down on construction."

Construction workers were working on a campus expansion project. They were on a 250-foot-long pedestrian bridge when it suddenly gave way, sending five men to the ground. First responders said the bridge, at its highest point, is 40 feet tall.

"Our first unit was on the scene six minutes after dispatch," said Jonathan Olsen, Chief of Operations at Wake County EMS.

While the initial 911 call conversation may have slowed down response by a few minutes, a second delay came from the location itself. The men were in a construction site.

"There are issues finding out what is the best place to get to the best location to get to the patients," said Olsen.

They describe that delay of getting to the victims, once on site, as only a "moment or two" thanks to the help of police officers and other construction workers. When first responders found the men, one was dead. Four were still alive and rushed to WakeMed.

No names have been released.

The construction company doing the work is Skanska. Federal investigators were expected to begin looking into what caused the accident right away.

The ABC11 I-Team looked into the company and the sub-contractor that employed the victims. We looked through records kept by the North Carolina Occupational Health and Safety Division, which is the state's OSHA.

Both the company in charge of this project and the sub-contractor responsible for the bridge have notably good safety records.

The subcontractor, a company called Central Concrete, has been inspected four times in the past five years, but was never cited and never found to be in violation.

It's the same with the company in charge of the project, Skanska. They have had four visits from OSHA with no violations and no fines.

Skanska Vice President Alan Jones says the company is committed to finding out what went wrong and sharing lessons learned.

"Whatever comes out of this from a standpoint of investigation will not only go locally, it will go worldwide from a standpoint of any kind of stand-down and what we learned from it," said Jones.

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