Fri, Dec. 13, 2002

Bulldozer operator drowns in Weston


Walter Michot/Herald Staff

Ft. Lauderdale, FL- Investigators look at the site where Hollis Jones, a 65-year-old construction worker from Davie, died Thursday in the 3400 block of S. Post Road in Weston.
Hollis Jones kissed his wife goodbye Thursday morning as he left for work. She remembers her last words to him were, ``Be careful, honey. I love you.''
Sandy Jones, grief-stricken, slowly repeated those words Thursday, minutes after finding out her husband had drowned in a construction accident in Weston.
Hollis Jones, 65, of Davie was operating a bulldozer on a sliver of dirt that divided the lake, when it toppled over and splashed into a murky, man-made 40-foot-deep lake at 3400 S. Post Rd.
''It went nose down in the water,'' said Broward sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal.
Another worker jumped in and reached Jones, trapped in the driver's seat, but couldn't dislodge him from the D6 Caterpillar bulldozer.
''No one understands why it occurred,'' Leljedal said.
Three hours later, divers from Broward County Fire Rescue brought his body up.
Poor visibility in the sediment-filled lake made the rescue difficult, said Todd LeDuc, assistant fire rescue chief for the county.
The heavy bulldozer also made the rescue difficult.
Centex Homes is building a community of 655 homes on 325 acres, called the Isles of Weston, where the accident happened.
Jones and a crew were working on the future site of Swan Lake Estates, Leljedal said.
Jones worked for Ryan Incorporated Eastern, based in Deerfield Beach. Centex Homes hired the firm to do the excavation.
Sandy Jones was cooking dinner and waiting for her husband of one year to come home. The couple had just celebrated their wedding anniversary in November.
He was always punctual, home by 6. About 6:45 p.m., she grabbed the keys to her red pickup to look for him when a knock on the door brought the tragic news.
'Everyday I used to say to him, `Be careful, honey,' '' she said in between heavy sobs. ``Oh, no. He's such a good man.''
Herald researcher Scott Hutchinson contributed to this report.