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LIVE BLOG: Four injured in SR 99 tunnel project after wall collapse, 25-foot fall

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SEATTLE — Emergency crews were called to the northern part of the SR 99 tunnel project Thursday after four people were injured in an accident at the construction site.

The men were hurt on the project around 1:30 p.m. in the 300 block of Aurora Avenue North when a portion of an elevator wall they were standing on collapsed, sending them 25 feet to the ground, Seattle Fire Spokesperson Kyle Moore said.

Three of the injured workers crawled their way out of the pit, Moore said. Another required rescue from the Seattle Fire Department, and he was carried out on a gurney. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center.

The three other workers that managed to crawl their way out were also transported to Harborview, but only suffered minor injuries. All four of the patients were men, ages 23, 29, 31 and 36.

The patients were all listed in satisfactory condition suffering injuries to the arm, back and neck, according to Harborview Medical Center spokesperson Susan Gregg.

Firefighters said the rescue took quite some time, as emergency workers said the walk to the accident scene was a quarter-mile long. Moore called the fall “significant.”

It was unknown if the wall's collapse would cause a long delay in construction of the SR 99 tunnel, or potentially affect the ground around the site. The Washington State Department of Transportation released this statement following the injuries:

"We are still gathering information, but Seattle Tunnel Partners has informed us that an incident has occurred on the SR 99 Tunnel Project job site in the north portal area. Safety is STP's and WSDOT's number one priority. Right now, their field crews are focusing on making sure the site is secured. Emergency services were notified immediately and arrived at the site after the incident.

We will provide additional information as it becomes available."

For months the world’s largest tunnel-boring machine has been damaged and sitting idle underneath Seattle. Setbacks have plagued the multibillion-dollar project.

In January, contractors completed a 120-foot deep access pit to reach the damaged machine.

Once contractors reach Bertha, they will replace the machine’s damaged cutter head and try to get it digging again.

Stay with Q13 FOX for updates on this breaking news.

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8 comments

  • John Doe

    When will the news care enough to report on what really happened in stories? I’ll never understand.
    First off- they were tying a rebar wall, tied off to it just like is their protocol (tie off at 4feet and above). It broke away from the wood wall it was secured to, and 4 guys who were properly tied off came falling down with all the rebar. They were not more than 10-15 feet off the deck. Nowhere, no HOW were they ever anywhere CLOSE to 25feet so please stop telling that.
    3 walked out on their own. The 4th guy, fell possibly breaking his arm, and maybe even a couple ribs. His co-workers stabilized him, waiting for Seattle fire. When they arrived carrying a backboard, the workers were unable to use the stokes basket. Seattle fire were very confused on how to organize the scene, so the CO-WORKERS carried the injured man out of the site, while Seattle fire escorted. There was no special rescue involved, no special “equipment”. And the firemen did not “carry” anything except their own jump kits.

  • anonymous

    Surely we can all agree that we should be hoping that any of the people injured will recover quickly.

    Unfortunately, such an incident does not exactly fill one with confidence…

    What steps are being taken to prevent this from happening in the future?

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