Construction worker killed after fall near UChicago Cancer Center ID'd, another hurt, officials say

Friday, June 7, 2024
Worker killed in fall at UChicago hospital ID'd, another injured
Construction worker David O'Donnell died and another was injured Thursday after a fall at UChicago's Cancer Center, the Chicago Fire Department said.

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An iron worker died after a scaffolding collapse at a Hyde Park hospital, the Chicago Fire Department said.

The incident happened at the construction site for the University of Chicago Cancer Pavilion Project on Maryland Street near 57th Street around noon, Chicago fire officials said.

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Officials said two workers were on scaffolding for the elevator shaft construction when they believe high winds caused the scaffolding to collapse.

The workers fell eight stories, through ground level pit, Chicago fire officials said. Wind gusts were upwards of 40 miles per hour on Thursday.

He was supposed to be safe at work, and now my son is never coming home again
David O'Donnell Sr., father of worker killed

A worker was found dead at the scene, Chicago police said. Another worker was sent to the hospital in critical condition.

The man who died was later identified as 27-year-old David O'Donnell of Oak Forest by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Witnesses said they saw the scaffold swaying. It was secured to the building after the incident.

The father of the worker who died said his son was loved dearly. He says the accident never should have happened, and is asking why the work was being done on this windy day.

Loved ones of David O'Donnell, who grew up in Oak Forest, are devastated by his death and left with unanswered questions.

O'Donnell's father says his son was an avid golfer and was the second oldest of four boys in a large, loving family. His father, who is also named David, said "my son was a good person and a great man. I loved him dearly, so many people do. He was supposed to be safe at work, and now my son is never coming home again."

The 27-year-old union technical engineer was doing work on the new University of Chicago Cancer Pavilion that's now under construction when he and another worker fell from a scaffold.

Around the time of the incident, the scaffold was seen swaying with winds gusting upwards of 40 miles per hour. Guidelines from a scaffold industry safety group recommend "...when wind speed exceeds 25 mph..." scaffold work should cease.

OSHA said it's opened an inspection with the company New Horizon Steel, which says it employed the injured worker, but not O'Donnell.

OSHA said New Horizon Steel has no previous OSHA history, and the general contractor, Turner Construction, has no Illinois violations in the past five years.

Turner Construction is completing the project, and a spokesperson released the following statement:

"It is with incredible sadness we share that earlier today, two iron workers fell from scaffolding on our project. We immediately called emergency responders who determined that one individual had passed away at the scene. The second worker was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center. This is an extremely sad day. Our hearts are broken, and we extend our thoughts and prayers to their family members, friends, and colleagues at this extremely difficult time. The safety and wellbeing of everyone on our sites is so important to us. We work extremely hard to prevent days like this and we have halted all construction activity. Grief counseling services will be available to all workers on site to support them in the difficult days and weeks ahead."

New Horizon did not return ABC7's messages for a request for comment.

Chicago police assisted with the investigation.