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UPDATE: Worker Dies After Accident at PARTA Construction Site

OSHA investigating cause of death; PARTA suspends work on project

Editor's note: this story was updated at 11:30 a.m. and again at 7:20 p.m.

A construction worker has died at the PARTA Kent Central Gateway transit center job site Tuesday morning, a official confirmed this morning.

The man was identified as Russell Hirschfelt, 49, of Barberton, by the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office. Hirschfelt died just after 6 p.m. Tuesday due to injuries sustained in the accident.

The accident happened just before 11 a.m. Tuesday when Hirschfelt was walking between slabs of concrete and a trackhoe when the excavator moved and pinned him between the machine and concrete.

Julie Weis, acting area director in the Cleveland office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the U.S. Department of Labor is investigating the sub contractor Lockhart Concrete, which employed Hirschfelt.

Weis said it's too early in the investigation to say if it will be expanded to include PARTA and it's general contractor, Pennsylvania-based Quandel Construction Group, or if fines and penalties will be levied as a result of the death.

"There are times when we can't come up with the amount of documentation we need to issue a citation," Weis said. "It's way too early to speculate. But the potential is there."

An OSHA compliance officer visited the construction site in downtown Kent Tuesday shortly after the accident and is on site again today to conduct the investigation, which could take several months.

Frank Hairston, PARTA's director of marketing and public service, said in prepared remarks that the transit agency employed Lockhart Concrete for work at the construction site.

"Work on the site has been temporarily suspended while the investigation continues," he said.

Hairston said later in an email that Lockhart Concrete suspended work for the day by choice but he could not say how long work will be suspended at the site.

Hairston said Tuesday that "PARTA is committed to safety and will participate in a comprehensive investigation and cooperate fully with authorities to determine possible causes and prevent future accidents."

PARTA, the Portage Area Regional Transit Agency, is building that will include bus transfer bays, close to 400 public parking spaces, retail and commercial space and bicycle storage at 201 E. Erie St. Officials broke ground on the project in April 2011 thanks largely to a $20 million federal transportation grant, and the facility is expected to open in 2013.

The agency also operates busing at and has bus routes linking Portage County to Akron and Cleveland.

Kent Patch will update this story as information becomes available.

Zachary Thoren March 28, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Can any of the new construction be without incidents? First the illegal immigrants, now this...
Bryn Oldham March 28, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Very sad.
Rodney Wilson March 28, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Just awful. My thoughts go out to the man's friends and family.
Morgan Mzik March 28, 2012 at 04:42 PM
So sad. Life is so precious and fragile, my heart goes to the family and friends.

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