1 dead, 1 injured after temporary bridge support collapses - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

1 dead, 1 injured after temporary bridge support collapses in Mesa

Posted: Updated:
MESA, Ariz. -

Firefighters say one person has died and another was hospitalized after a temporary bridge support collapsed at a construction site.

This happened near Loop 202 and Warner Road at about 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Mesa Fire Capt. Forrest Smith says support beams were being removed from the concrete portion of a bridge that's part of State Route 24, which will eventually connect the southeast area, near San Tan Valley. 

Smith says part of the beams came down on four workers; two were able to get out of the way, but two others were trapped.

"Crews were in the process of lowering falsework or temporary supports as part of the bridge construction and tragically, a section of those supports came down on the workers," said Doug Nintzel of the Arizona Department of Transportation.

One man was found dead under debris, and another was rescued and flown to a hospital for treatment. Smith says 20-year-old Alejandro Meraz has a head injury, but is in serious but stable condition.

Firefighters waited for OSHA to investigate before they removed the man's body. He has been identified as Steven Ariston, 43.

To give you some idea of the weight that fell on the worker, consider this: each of the metal beams used in construction weighs 6,600 pounds. That's over three tons.

It was the wooden and metal structure under the bridge that collapsed.

ADOT officials say the bridge itself is structurally sound.  It's part of a more than $70 million project to build the Gateway Freeway connecting the Loop 202 freeway with Ellsworth Road by the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport.

The next stop for investigators is to find out what happened.

"Safety is our top priority and we will be looking into this," said Nintzel.  "We do not want repeat occurrence.. see what happened here."

The project's contractor is the Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Company, based in Utah.

The collapse didn't impact traffic.

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