A 43-year-old construction worker from Lancaster was killed early Thursday while working on the San Diego (405) Freeway widening project. Construction is temporarily halted while CAL/OSHA investigates the incident. Angie Crouch reports from West LA for the NBC4 News at 9 p.m. on Oct. 11, 2012.
Grief counselors were called in to help console construction workers affected by the death of a colleague who was killed early Thursday when he was crushed under a 3,000-pound beam during work along the 405 Freeway.
Adolfo Figueroa, 43, from Lancaster, was working for Kiewit Infrastructure West on the $1 billion 405 Freeway widening project when he was fatally struck by a beam at 2:40 a.m. The incident occurred on an offramp at Santa Monica Boulevard. Figueroa, who's survived by his wife and three children, was hired by Kiewit in May 2011. He operated an excavator, officials said.
The death -- the first major incident involving workers on the freeway project since it began in 2009 -- shocked and horrified Figueroa's colleagues.
"They are a close-knit family," said Dave Sotero, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is spearheading the project. "It's a devastating day for Kiewit and for Metro."
Kiewit officials expressed condolences to Figueroa's family and friends.
"We extend our sincerest condolences," a statement read. "Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with all of them at this time."
All work on the project was halted for up to two days as officials investigate the death, Sotero said.
While officials worked to determine exactly what happened, a CHP officer said that early indications suggested Figueroa was killed while standing under a beam that fell off a crane. He died at the scene.
"There were several employees on scene who tried to lift the beam, who tried to do something," said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Joe Zizi. "As you can imagine, they are very distraught."
Officials with California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which probes workplace incidents that result in serious injuries, illnesses and fatalities, launched an investigation.
In the last five years, Kiewit has been cited for a handful of violations that Cal-OSHA found during inspections at the company's worksites across the state, said spokeswoman Erika Monterroza.