Wall crushes, kills Denver man at Aspen Middle School
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
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.”
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