53.1 F
The Villages
Thursday, November 17, 2022

Construction worker killed in cave-in at bridge at U.S. Hwy. 27/441

A construction worker has been killed in a cave-in at the bridge at U.S. Hwy. 27/441 in Lady Lake.

The accident occurred Wednesday afternoon when the worker, who reportedly was operating a Bobcat-style piece of equipment, ran into an obstruction and climbed down into a hole to investigate. A retaining wall caved in on top of him. He was soon buried in rubble.

Numerous firetrucks and emergency personnel were summoned to the scene, and a frantic effort began to try to unearth the trapped worker. The Villages Public Safety Department joined in the effort to rescue the worker.

Heavy equipment was brought in early Wednesday evening in an attempt to rescue the trapped construction worker
Heavy equipment was brought in early Wednesday evening in an attempt to rescue the trapped construction worker.

The Florida Urban Search and Rescue team quickly positioned its members on the bridge in the rescue effort.

However, by about 6 p.m. the rescue effort officially shifted to the grim task of recovering the body of the construction worker, who was presumed dead.

Crews from Florida Urban Search and Resuce were leading the effort to find the buried worker
Crew members from Florida Urban Search and Rescue were leading the effort to find the buried worker.

The Medical Examiner’s Office arrived on the scene at about 6:30 p.m. A large septic-type truck was also at the site. Witnesses said it appeared the septic unit was being used to suck out dirt and water from the hole as part of the recovery effort.

Chief Edmund Cain of The Villages Public Safety Department second from left was among those at the site at the bridge.
Chief Edmund Cain of The Villages Public Safety Department, second from left, was among those at the site at the bridge.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” said Lady Lake Mayor James Rietz. “We feel terrible for the family and his loved ones.”

The mayor was still processing the tragic event Wednesday evening and was monitoring the situation along with Lady Lake Police Chief Robert Tempsta.

Resue personnel lower a ladder at the site of the accident
Reseue personnel lower a ladder at the site of the accident.

Traffic had come to a standstill on U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and cars were backed up far beyond the site of the accident.

The contractor for the project is Southland Construction Inc., but it is not known if the worker was a Southland employee or a subcontractor. His identity had not been made public Wednesday evening.

Emergency personnel worked into the night at the site at the bridge at U.S. Hwy. 27441
Emergency personnel worked into the night at the site at the bridge at U.S. Hwy. 27/441.

Southland representatives and Florida Department of Transportation officials recently met at Water Oak on U.S. Hwy. 27/441 with Lady Lake Commissioner Ed Freeman, a resident of the 55+ community. Water Oakers have been concerned about traffic issues in the area. Freeman described the Southland and FDOT representatives as receptive to the concerns which had been raised.

He was watching from his home in Water Oak on Wednesday as the emergency personnel arrived on the scene.

“It appears this was just a horrible accident,” Freeman said.

The construction work at the bridge and on U.S. Hwy. 27/441 has spurred numerous automobile accidents in recent weeks.

The Florida Department of Transportation is widening U.S. Hwy. 27/441 between Lake Ella Road and Avenida Central (at Griffin Avenue) in The Villages. Both northbound and southbound U.S. Hwy. 441 will be expanded to three lanes in this 4.157 mile, three-year project.

The $45 million widening project is scheduled to continue through 2023.

Villagers need a break on amenity fees

A Village of Silver Lake resident, in a Letter to the Editor, contends that residents are dealing with higher costs and need a break on amenity fees.

You have to work to be able to enjoy your retirement

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of DeSoto resident says people can enjoy their retirement - if they work hard.

Long lines show that overcrowding is a problem

A Village of Fenney resident says that long lines show that overcrowding is a problem in The Villages. Read her Letter to the Editor.

Stop complaining about ‘overcrowding’ in The Villages

A Village of Santiago resident who has been in The Villages for more than 23 years has something to say to all of those complaining about “overcrowding” in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown. Read his Letter to the Editor.

The losing and grift continues

A Village of Pine Ridge resident, in a Letter to the Editor, can’t help but mock former President Trump after the GOP lost ground in the U.S. Senate in the mid-term elections.