Wall crushes, kills Denver man at Aspen Middle School | PostIndependent.com

Wall crushes, kills Denver man at Aspen Middle School

John Colson
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” A Denver man was killed Wednesday when a free-standing cinder-block wall toppled over on him at the old Aspen Middle School on Wednesday morning.

The man, Juan Ruiz, 29, was pronounced dead from “massive” head injuries at approximately noon at Aspen Valley Hospital, according to a statement from the Pitkin County Coroner’s office.

The accident was called in to local authorities at 9:20 a.m., by workers of the company working on asbestos abatement and demolition at the school, ESA of Denver.

According to Jeff Lumsden, patrol director for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, the man was working alongside his brother on the third floor of the school when the wall fell on him.

Emergency services personnel reportedly performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation

techniques at the site of the accident and in the ambulance on the way to the

hospital, but to no avail.

Aspen Schools Superintendent Diana Sirko said the wall was “the last free-standing

wall to come out in the old lockers area” on that floor. She said it was not a weight

bearing wall.

The victim was part of a crew working to remove what is believed to be a small

amount of asbestos from the old school, which stands right next to a new,

replacement school completed last year.

The original plans called for the old school already to have been demolished and

replaced by an open playground area. But officials discovered last year that the

building contained vermiculite, a naturally occurring mineral that in some cases

contains asbestos and has been linked to lung disease. Federal health regulations

required that the school district call in professional abatement crews to remove the

vermiculite before the building could be demolished.

Sirko said the abatement and demolition project is about one-third complete, and that

it is too early to tell if the accident will interfere with completion of the project before

school begins for the 2008-2009 year. Work on the old school has been suspended

pending an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,

which was expected to send an investigator to Aspen on Wednesday.

“At this point, we’re just absorbing the tragedy of it,” Sirko said. “And obviously, our

hearts and prayers go out to the family of this young man.”

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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