Bridge collapse hurts workers at casino

July 22, 2008 10:07:51 AM PDT
A bridge collapsed at a casino in Northwest Indiana, sending up to a dozen construction workers into Lake Michigan. No one was seriously injured in the accident.

The collapse took place about 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond where a new floating casino is under construction.

ABC7 has learned that the workers fell a maximum distance of about 10 feet. The casino is undergoing massive renovations. Workers had just moved out the old casino boat and were bringing in a much bigger one. They told ABC7 that's what was happening when one of three enclosed boarding ramps gave way, sending as many as a dozen iron workers into the harbor below. Only one had to go to the hospital with a shoulder injury.

The enclosed walkway, which connects the casino to the entrance pavilion, was being supported by a barge below. There are conflicting reports about whether the supports were being removed because workers believed the ramp was secure.

"The permanent bridge and the one end collapsed. A union iron worker got hurt. That was it. That's why I'm out here, to check on my guys," said Randy Palmateer, IBEW Local 697.

"From what I understand, the three guys on the structure bailed off it and went in the water before it collapsed," said resident Arthur Molson.

ABC7 has learned Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) investigators are on the scene looking into the ramp collapse. Some workers told ABC7 privately that there has been incredible pressure to accelerate the pace of the project. A statement, however, from Horseshoe management says a full engineering review is underway and the company is taking steps to ensure workers' safety. Officials also emphasized Tuesday that the accident will not delay the planned reopening of the brand new much bigger casino scheduled for August 8.


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