SANTA CLARA – Construction on the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara was halted this morning after a worker was killed in an elevator accident at the site.
The accident was reported at 6:53 a.m. at the site of what will be Levi’s Stadium, the $1.3 billion venue at Centennial Boulevard and Tasman Drive slated to open in 2014.
Robert Rayborn, project co-director with general contractor Turner-Devcon, said the worker who died was an employee of subcontractor Schindler Elevator Corp.
Company officials identified the victim as Donald White, an elevator installer who had worked for Schindler “for many years.”
White, 63, was apparently standing on a ladder beneath the elevator’s counterweight when the counterweight “came down and struck him,” said Peter Melton, a spokesman for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
Melton said it is not yet clear what went wrong.
Rayborn said the accident occurred in one of 14 elevator shafts at the stadium site.
“We have 1,000 employees a day working there and we have very few accidents, especially serious ones,” Rayborn said. “We can’t describe our sadness. This is such a tragedy.”
He said Cal/OSHA is in charge of investigating the accident and that the circumstances are still a mystery.
Melton said the agency’s elevator unit has been assigned to the case and that the investigation could take up to six months.
In the meantime, work on the stadium has been stopped and workers have been sent home. Project co-director Jonathan Harvey said it is not clear when work will resume, but that the site is shut down at least for the day.
Harvey said safety is the company’s primary concern.
“We will never put a worker in a hazardous situation,” he said.
A statement released by Turner-Devcon this morning read, “We are deeply saddened to confirm that a worker died this morning while working on the stadium construction site. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time.”
The statement said that in addition to Cal/OSHA, the Santa Clara police and fire departments are looking into the accident, and that Turner-Devcon will also conduct its own investigation.
Grief counselors will be made available to friends and coworkers of the victim in the coming days and weeks, according to the company.
The 49ers released a statement today offering condolences to White’s family, friends and colleagues.
“The 49ers family has lost a teammate today,” team officials said.
Santa Clara city spokesman Dan Beerman said word of the death has sent a shock wave through the city.
“Everybody’s walking around here in a daze,” he said.
Picture: ABC7 News helicopter partnership.
(Copyright 2013, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)