Athens worker killed in Knoxville construction accident - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Athens worker killed in Knoxville construction accident

KNOXVILLE (NBC) - Authorities confirm a worker has died after being injured on the south side of the Henley Bridge construction site in south Knoxville.

John Womac, 33, of Athens, died after the accident, which happened around 8:26 a.m., according to Darrell DeBusk, spokesman for the Knoxville Police Department.

DeBusk said Womac was working near a trackhoe when he was injured.

He was transported to UT Medical Center with head trauma, according to D.J. Corcoran, spokesman for the Knoxville Fire Department.

The Tennessee Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating. Jeff Hentschel, spokesman for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which oversees TOSHA, told 10News an investigator was in route to the scene.

Hentschel said the department would not be able to release any details about the incident until the report is complete, which likely would be within the next six to eight weeks. The final report must be completed within six months.

Womac was part of the $24.7 million Henley Bridge renovation project. 

The Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded the contract to Britton Bridge, LLC, but there is no word if Womac was an employee of Britton.

Britton Bridge was cited for workplace safety violations in March of 2010. It happened during a project for a bridge on Highway 33 in Maynardville. Hentschel said workers were on site to inspect another company and decided to perform an inspection on Britton Bridge as well.

According to a document from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Britton Bridge was cited for two "serious" violations and fined a total of $700.

The first violation was for failing to have an annual inspection on a 110-ton crane on the floating barge. The report said the company did not designate a competent person to inspect the equipment prior to its use to make sure it was in safe operating condition.

The second violation was for not securing two cranes on that barge, one a 110-ton crane, the other a 150-ton crane.

It was the most recent of six instances of violations dating back to 2002 on TOSHA's Web site.

Hentschel said none of the previous violations involved an injury or death, noting that the "serious" designation for violations is a category and not necessarily a reflection of how serious the infraction was, adding that the fine, per incident, can go as high as $7,000.

Britton Bridge's highest fine was $1,500 for a 2003 incident related to a violation of the standard involving workplace ladders or staircases.

A local TDOT spokeswoman said she could not comment on the incident because it is a TDOT investigation but added that a statement form TDOT's Nashville office is expected.

Britton Bridge, LLC has released a statement about the death of one of their workers, John Womac, Tuesday morning at the Henley Bridge work site:

We at Britton Bridge, LLC are mourning the loss of our friend, employee and family member. John Womac was more than a foreman and leader with our company, he was a son, husband and father and we are praying for his family as we all learn to cope with this sudden loss. John was with our company for more than 6 years starting his career as a carpenter and worked on 5 projects with us. As we move forward with the Henley project we will pay tribute to John remembering his professionalism, commitment and charming personality.

Please respect the privacy of John's family.

The accident is under investigation, therefore, Britton Bridge, LLC is not at liberty to discuss any details about the accident. For any other information, please refer all questions to TOSHA.

Jerry Britton
Chief Manager


Story provided by the NBC affiliate in Knoxville, WBIR-TV.

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