Construction worker killed in accident at science center site

March 17, 2011

On Wednesday morning, a 36-year-old woman died after she was seriously hurt while working at Georgetown University’s new science center site.

The woman, who was not identified by University or city officials, was operating a forklift-like piece of equipment known as a lift platform when she became pinned on an elevated surface between scaffolding and an overhead railing. After her coworkers freed her and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services rushed her to George Washington University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Whiting-Turner Construction, the company responsible for the building site, informed the University that the worker died later that afternoon, according to the University’s Senior Vice President Spiros Dimolitsas.

“It is not clear whether the injuries were work related or due to some kind of medical emergency,” Dimolitsas wrote in an email to the Georgetown community Wednesday evening.

At the time of the accident, D.C. Fire EMS reported on Twitter that the worker, who was employed by Cleveland Construction Company, a subcontractor of Whiting-Turner, was pinned by a forklift in an underground worksite. Later, D.C. Fire EMS spokesperson Pete Piringer told Georgetown Patch that the victim’s injuries were consistent with reports that she was pinned between the scaffolding and railing. Piringer did not respond to requests for clarification.

Dimolitsas added that the worksite was shut down on Wednesday out of respect for the workers. The Metropolitan Police Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will open an investigation into the incident.

According to the Washington Post, the worker was taken to GWU Hospital instead of Georgetown University Hospital because emergency responders determined it had better resources for her treatment. As a level-1 trauma center, GWU Hospital has trauma specialists and equipment available for high-priority incidents 24 hours per day.

Officials from Whiting-Turner could not be reached for comment.

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