Tampa Tribune--Associated Press

Panhandle Bridge Construction Claims Second Life, Two Injured
The Associated Press
Published: Jul 23, 2003


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) - A bridge construction project claimed a second life and four other workers fell or jumped 50 feet into St. Andrew Bay when a scaffolding collapsed on Wednesday.

Alan Stockton, 44, of Laguna Beach, was killed. Stockton had not been on the scaffolding but was working on the underside of the U.S. 98 bridge, said Bill Jackson, a spokesman for Granite Construction Co. in Watsonville, Calif.

His safety harness, however, was attached to the scaffolding, and it pulled him off the bridge when it failed, trapping him under water, Jackson said.

He said it was not immediately clear why the scaffolding failed and whether Stockton drowned or died from the fall. A second scaffolding of the same type was pulled from service after the accident pending investigations by police and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Three employees on the scaffolding also fell with it into the bay and another worker jumped from the bridge deck trying to rescue the victims, Jackson said.

The three men on the scaffolding were identified as Michael Taylor, 35, and Richard Waldron, 37, both of Panama City, and Shannon Walker, 28, of Springfield, Panama city police Det. Duane Johnson said. They were treated and released from a local hospital.

The would-be rescuer, identified as Michael Barbieri, was admitted for observation but not believed to be seriously injured, Jackson said.

Richard Martin James, 33, of Fountain, was killed Dec. 14 when he fell 90 feet into the water, striking part of the bridge on the way down. His death did not involve the scaffolding, Jackson said.

The eight-lane bridge will replace an existing four-lane span linking Panama City and Panama City Beach. It is scheduled to be completed later this year.

Jackson said Granite had purchased the scaffolding in November as a safety improvement. It has railings to prevent workers from falling so they do not need to be attached with harnesses.

OSHA proposed that Granite and Granite-Rizzani de Echer, a joint venture with and an Italian company, be fined a total of $49,300 for two alleged safety violations found after James' death. The proposed fines have been appealed, Jackson said.

AP-ES-07-23-03 2028EDT