Construction worker dies in fall from Los Angeles skyscraper

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An electrician in his second day working on a downtown Los Angeles skyscraper that will be the tallest building in the West plunged about 800 feet to his death on Thursday.

The worker fell from the windowless 53rd floor of the unfinished Wilshire Grand Center around noon and either hit the back edge of a passing car or struck nearby.

It happened at one of the busiest times of day at one of the busiest intersections in downtown Los Angeles, when the streets were thronged with people.

Los Angeles Times photographer Mel Melcon, who was on assignment at the building, said he heard the man hit the ground.

"No one thought it was a body," Melcon told the paper. "We heard no screams."

Melcon saw the man's body in the street near a car. He said the man was wearing an orange vest but no hard hat, and he also wasn't wearing a tethering harness, required for employees working near the edge of the building.

No electrical work was being done close to the edge of the building, said Chris Martin, CEO of Martin Project Management, which is supervising the construction.

The electrician hit the back of a passing car near the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street, fire officials said. However, the car appeared to be undamaged. A rear side panel was spattered with blood.

James Armstrong III was walking to a nearby bank just after the accident when he saw police helping the driver.

"She was hysterical," waving her hands in the air and holding her head, he said. But she did not seem to be hurt, Armstrong said.

The woman was taken to a hospital to be examined, fire officials said.

The 73-story skyscraper will be about 1,100 feet tall, or nearly a quarter-mile, when it's completed. A ceremony was held earlier this month when the top beam was hoisted into place on the 73rd floor. The $1 billion office and hotel tower being developed by Korean Airlines Co. Ltd. is expected to open in early 2017.

The building is near the Staples Center arena where the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers play and is at the center of the bustling and fast-growing financial district of downtown.

There were barricades around the edge of the building and other safety measures in place, Martin said.

All of the building's 891 workers had undergone training, Martin said.

"There's safety training for every worker on the job, and certain locations there's very specialized training. So these are all smart people," Martin said. "We had no injuries up to this date."

Work was shut down for the day.