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Railroad Tunnel Accident Claims Life of Worker

Last Thursday, a 26 year old tunnel worker was killed when part of a ceiling collapsed on him. Michael P. O’Brien had been working on the New York tunnel just below Parker Avenue when a piece of concrete fell from the ceiling of a future commuter tunnel and killed the worker.

The piece of concrete had been sprayed on to the ceiling surface because it was a hard to reach area. A high-pressured hose was used to apply the concrete but it appears the area was not stable resulting in the partial collapse of the concrete. Work has since been suspended in the tunnel during the investigation by workplace safety officials as well as the transportation authority.

The tunnel which is being constructed to allow the Long Island Railroad trains to travel into Grand Central’s terminal will provide commuters easier access to Manhattan’s east side. Many decades ago, tunnel workers were frequently injured or killed during the workday but with improve technologies and advanced safety measures, deaths are not as common.

O’Brien’s father was the project manager at the time of the accident. The victim was hired only three weeks before by his father. He has previously worked in tunnels in Wisconsin but was working to turn his life around after developing a drug addiction after a previous accident.

The contracting company, Dragados, who had hired O’Brien had been cited and fined for a previous accident at a Manhattan construction site where a worker was injured on the job. There was also a recent inspection of the company after another accident last month involving an underground railroad car collided with a mechanical lift. Dragados is said to be paying the bill for the transport of O’Brien’s body back to Wisconsin as well as for the funeral and grief counseling for the other employees who worked alongside O’Brien at the time of the accident.

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