Bridge supports collapse at freeway construction site; 1 dead, 1 injured

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

MESA, Ariz. -- One person was killed and another was badly injured when some bridge supports collapsed at a freeway construction site near Loop 202 in Mesa.

It happened at about 5:45 a.m. Wednesday in the area of Warner and Ellsworth roads just east of the Loop 202 Santan Freeway. Crews were working on the new State Route 24 Gateway Freeway, which will connect Ellsworth Road with Loop 202.

Aerial video from the Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper showed the four I-beams and the wood structure that came down, pinning two workers. The SR 24 ramp itself is still intact and was not damaged when the supports collapsed.

The Mesa Police Department has confirmed that 43-year-old Peoria resident Steven Ariston died during the incident. Alejandro Meraz, 20, suffered serious injuries and was taken to the hospital. He is in stable condition.

Two other people who were working on the scene escaped without injury. 3TV's Tess Rafols tried to talk to them, but they are not permitted to comment until the investigation is complete.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the four men are not ADOT employees. Rather, they work for a contractor, a Utah-based company call R. L. Wadsworth Construction.

Smith said the team was removing with some cribbing, which means they were dealing with temporary structures meant to shore up the concrete bridge while it's being built. Cribbing is used to provide support from below or from the side of a structure.

It's not clear if the workers were on top of the I-beams or under them. I-beams are generally steel, but they can be aluminum or even wood.

At this point, it's not known what caused the cribbing to collapse.

Because this was a workplace accident, OSHA will investigate. The agency also will coordinate the removal of the worker's body from the site. It's not clear when OSHA will arrive on the scene.

This incident is not impacting traffic on Loop 202.

SR 24 project area map from ADOT