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Construction worker crushed by steel beam on 405 Freeway ramp

October 11, 2012 |  7:41 am

A 3,000-pound steel beam fell and crushed a construction employee to death early Thursday as he worked on the high-profile 405 Freeway widening project, authorities said.

The accident occurred about 2:30 a.m. on the Santa Monica Boulevard off-ramp off the southbound 405, which had been closed and where large steel beams were being unloaded from trucks and possibly onto them, said Sgt. Joe Zizi of the California Highway Patrol.

Zizi said one of those beams somehow fell on the man, who was standing alongside the trucks. He has not been identified. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Approximately 15 co-workers either witnessed the incident or came onto the scene soon after, Zizi said, and crisis counselors had been sent to the area to support the employees.

He said the CHP will conduct the “general death investigation” and that the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) would also be investigating the fatality.

Construction on the $1-billion I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project began in late 2009, according to officials with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and it includes widening a 10-mile stretch of the 405 between the 10 and 101 freeways to make room for a northbound carpool lane.

Metro officials extended their condolences to the worker’s family and said they and the contractor on the project would cooperate fully with the investigation.

Officials noted this was the first serious accident involving workers on the project since construction began.

The project and the need to demolish and rebuild the Mulholland Drive bridge to widen the 405 was the reason for Carmageddon I in July of last year and Carmageddon II last month.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

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