TOSHA investigating construction workers death - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TOSHA investigating construction workers death

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MARION COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- Wednesday, construction work at the US-41 Bridge is on hold until TDOT and the State of Tennessee can find out exactly what happened to 31-year-old Abimael Martinez.

Search crews found the man's body near the bridge about 100 feet from where he fell in Monday afternoon.

Witnesses saw Martinez trying to jump over a 4 foot gap, to another barge when he fell into the river wearing a 40 pound tool belt.

He was wearing a life vest but it came off in the water.

Martinez worked for Gilley Construction based out of Manchester, Tennessee, for 10 years, and kept a clean safety record during that time.

The company issued this statement about his death:

"Our company is deeply saddened by this tragic accident of one of our long time employees."

Both TDOT and TOSHA are looking into whether Gilley Construction will face any fines or penalties.

Channel 3 looked into the company's background and learned the state has fined Gilley in the past.

In October 2003, the company paid nearly $8,000 for three violations after an employee was hurt on the job.

In 2007, they paid another $4,000 after TOSHA found "serious" violations with steel reinforcement work.

A TOSHA spokesperson says whenever someone dies at a work site or three or more people are hurt, they get involved.

Jeff Hentschel, a spokesperson with TOSHA says, "We are not on site to point fingers at all. We are there to see if any safety standards have been broken."

In 2007, the EEOC made Gilley Construction pay four Black employees back pay and damages for not paying them the same as White and Hispanic workers.

Gilley Construction's contracted company, Britton Bridge, LLC, has also been under fire in Tennessee recently.

Two employees died in separate incidents at the same work site on a downtown bridge in Knoxville.

The State of Tennessee fined Britton Bridge, LLC and ordered all work to stop for a while.

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