State investigating fatal wall collapse in Lenoir City

LENOIR CITY — The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the wall collapse that killed one worker and injured another Monday.

“We are doing an inspection,” TOSHA spokesman Jeff Hentschel said today. “We don’t release details until the inspection’s complete, and that typically takes about 4-6 weeks.”

TOSHA inspectors visited the site on Nelson Street this morning.

The collapse happened around 2:10 p.m. Monday as the men, who worked for Bowen Engineering, were pouring concrete into a form for a 30-foot-high wall, Lenoir City police said. The company was working as a contractor for the Lenoir City Utilities Board to expand a sewage treatment plant.

The form collapsed and buried the men in concrete, police said.

Rescue crews pulled the men from the concrete within the hour. One died, and the other was airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

LCUB officials said the survivor’s condition appears to be improving.

Authorities haven’t given the men’s names, and the company wouldn’t identify them today. Firefighters and police said they don’t have the names.

“This was an accident that occurred on private property,” Police Chief Don White said. “As such, there’s no reason for the police department to conduct an investigation. In this particular incident, we just don’t have the information.”

Fred Nelson, general manager of LCUB, said it’s up to Bowen Engineering to give the names. The company wouldn’t give any details, even though the men’s families have been notified.

Doug Bowen, the company’s president, didn’t return a call seeking comment.

“If there’s information to be released, it will be released at another time,” said his assistant, Nancy Weisenbach. “We’ve not received any authorization from the families to give any information, and until we do, we will respect their privacy.”

OSHA records show no cases involving the company in Tennessee. Nelson, the LCUB manager, called the company’s safety record “tremendous.”

“I think this is the first worker they’ve had killed on the job in several years, maybe since the company’s founding,” he said.

One killed, one injured in wall's collapse

A concrete wall collapsed Monday in Lenoir City, killing one construction worker and severely injuring another, authorities said.

Both men were working for Bowen Engineering, which had contracted with the Lenoir City Utilities Board to expand a sewage treatment plant on Nelson Street, said Lenoir City Police Department Lt. Mike Tinnel.

The accident happened about 2:10 p.m. as workers poured concrete into a form for the 30-foot-tall wall, Tinnel said. The form collapsed, burying the two men in concrete.

Rescue crews pulled the first victim from the concrete at 2:37 p.m., and the second man was freed at 2:48 p.m., Tinnel said. One of the men was airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and the second was taken to Fort Loudoun Medical Center.

Both men were gravely injured and were in critical condition when they were transported, said Lenoir City Fire Department Deputy Chief Tony Brock.

"We went down in there with rappelling equipment and baskets and pulled them out," he said.

The men apparently had suffered injuries consistent with being crushed as well as inhaling the concrete, he said.

The victims' names weren't released Monday because their next of kin hadn't been notified.

Rural/Metro Ambulance Service also took part in the rescue effort, Tinnel said.