Worker dies after construction lift topples over

By Calvin Palmer

A construction lift toppled over in downtown Philadelphia today, killing a construction worker.

The 40-year-old victim,  James Wilson, of Glassboro, New Jersey, fell 125 feet and investigators are trying to establish if he was strapped in the bucket of the lift as he worked on the roof of the First Presbyterian Church near Rittenhouse Square.

“It doesn’t appear that he was secured properly. We would expect that he was tethered in,” Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. “We’re trying to find out if that’s the case.”

The vehicle apparently tipped over when it rode over a sidewalk grate, causing the grate to give way, Ayers said.

The victim’s name was not immediately released pending family notification. He was pronounced dead at Hahnemann University Hospital shortly after 1:30 p.m.

A co-worker described him as a married father from southern New Jersey who had worked for the Masonry Preservation Group for more than 20 years.

The lift struck the corner of a five-story apartment building and knocked down a traffic pole before crashing into two parked vehicles on the street.

Three people in cars were treated for minor injuries from falling debris, including a woman in her 70s who suffered a broken arm.

Tenants in the 13-unit apartment complex were evacuated, and none were injured. No one was inside the top-floor corner apartment that suffered the most damage.

“I just heard a really loud crash, and looked out my window and saw the two cars — a car and a truck — smashed in,” said tenant Stephanie Watts, 22, who was at home a floor below the damaged unit.

[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]

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