Wacker update: work to resume, victim's legality questioned - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Wacker work to resume after deadly fall, victim's legal status questioned

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CHARLESTON, TN (WRCB) -- Bradley County Medical Examiner's investigator Eric Blach is sure that emergency responders could not have saved two concrete workers after they fell off of a 14-story tower Wednesday night at the site of the Wacker Chemie polysilicon facility under construction in Charleston.

"You could see it the other (workers) faces," he says. "They watched those guys fall."

They couldn't have done anything to save two of Wacker's subcontractor cement workers -- not after a 14 story fall.

He's also far from certain about the name of one of the victims.

"It's certainly something I need to know. That's one of the requirements the Medical Examiner has; to confirm identity."

Initially, the Blach's office and the sub-contractor, Baker Concrete Construction of Monroe, OH, believed the man's was Luis Ochoa, 31, of Hollywood Hills, Florida. It's the name on his Wacker-issued worker ID card.

"We believed him to be an American citizen," says Baker communications director Rob Fox.

"We hired him in Bradley County in June. He presented a Social Security card, and a driver's license. E-verify checked the documents and they came back as legitimate."

But Blach now believes the victim probably is Rodrigo Trinidad-Mena', a name listed on a worker's permit that recovery crews found in the man's wallet.

Support for Blach's hunch comes from Kim Randolph, of Cleveland's Fike Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements for both victims, and from Martha Giraldo, the bookkeeper for St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Parish.

"He (Trinidad-Mena) has a cousin here who is trying to reach his family back in Mexico," Giraldo tells Channel 3.

"I'm serving as a translator for making the arrangements, and for dealing with the red tape."

Giraldo has forwarded our request for more information to Trinidad-Mena's cousin. She hasn't responded.

Trinidad-Mena listed a Cleveland address in personnel records Blach obtained in his attempts to reach next-of-kin. The address doesn't exist.

Blach has requested assistance from Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to verify the identities of Ochoa/Trinidad-Mena' and of the second victim, Hugo Mendoza-Canales, 45, believed to be from Buford, Georgia.

An agent for ICE, speaking on condition of anonymity because he isn't authorized to speak to the media, confirms that the federal agency will compare the victims' fingerprints with those in its files. He will not comment as to whether ICE will launch its own investigation as a result of its findings.

Absent confirmation and verification, Blach says his office may be unable to authorize release of the victims' bodies to their families for burial.

Fike Funeral Home will host a gathering of friends for Rodrigo Trinidad-Mena' from 5-7PM Saturday.

Fox is unclear as to Baker's next step. 

"It is impossible to adequately express our grief for the families of these two men, Fox wrote in a news release Thursday.

"This type if accident is heartbreaking, emotionally overwhelming, and represents a feeling of personal loss that is shared throughout all of Baker Concrete."

Baker is paying the full costs of the victims' services, " Fox says.

"Our primary concern is the welfare of the families and trying to get their needs taken care of. This (questions regarding identity) throws a wrench into all of it."

"It's kind of a shock, I must say."

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