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Former U student dies in hockey arena site accident

Author / Coordinator: Brad Ellingson
February 2002

A former University student and construction worker died Tuesday evening after falling more than 40 feet at the future site of the University’s women’s hockey arena.

According to police reports, Ryan Carmichael, 21, of Forest Lake fell at approximately 7:30 p.m. after the machine he was in — similar to a cherry picker — tipped on its side. He died after being taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.

Carmichael was working for Insulation Midwest Inc. of Blaine, a construction firm subcontracted by Shaw-Lundquist Associates Inc. of Eagan. Shaw-Lundquist is the general contractor for the project.

Carmichael enrolled at the University in fall 1999. His last term at the University was spring 2000.

Hoyt Hsiao, vice president of Shaw-Lundquist, said Carmichael was inside the bucket of a JLG articulating arm lift when he fell.

According to the police report: Police were summoned to the site on the 1800 block of Fifth Street Southeast where they found Carmichael lying unconscious on the ground inside the building.

An officer at the scene noticed no safety harness on or near Carmichael. The arm lift was lying on its side with two wheels off the ground.

Officers questioned Frank Meyers, a co-worker of Carmichael’s and the only other person on the site at the time of the incident. According to the police report, Meyers was disturbed when officers arrived. The witness said he was worried he would be in trouble with his company and about the consequences of the accident for his employer.

In the report, police officers said they saw Meyers trying to move the machine, saying he wanted to protect Insulation Midwest from getting in trouble with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Police said Meyers kept trying to move the machinery after police had instructed him not to do so. He was later detained in a police car and sent away from the scene.

University police issued Meyers a citation for obstructing legal process by tampering with the accident scene.

According to the report, a medical examiner informed University police Carmichael died at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

“At this time, for all the information we have, it was an accident,” said Steve Johnson, University police captain.

Jim Gades, a glazier for Midland Glass and Mirror of St. Louis Park — one of the firms doing work at the site — was not working at the time of the accident but said JLG articulating armlifts can reach up to 60 to 80 feet, so workers must use caution.

“It could happen to anyone, if they’re not careful,” Gades said.

Hsiao said Insulation Midwest is responsible for pipe insulation inside the building.

He also said employers are responsible for supplying workers with harnesses and OSHA standards require it.

Minnesota OSHA spokesman James Honerman said OSHA will investigate the events that led up to the accident.

Honerman said employers are required to report all work-related fatalities to OSHA. Investigations for work-related fatalities usually take approximately a month. Based on the investigation, OSHA can impose fines up to $25,000 fine.

“It’s still too early to determine what happened or what’s going to happen from here,” Honerman said.

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