Tugboat strikes Eads Bridge; man killed

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Traffic across the Eads Bridge was temporarily closed in both directions after a tugboat hit the bridge Thursday afternoon, resulting in a bridge worker’s death.

According to MetroLink spokesman Jerry Vallely, initially train service was cancelled and buses were used to take passengers between the 5th and Missouri and Stadium MetroLink stations. However, MetroLink later suspended all operations on the Eads Bridge until the bridge could be inspected by Metro engineers.

Commuter traffic was kept off the bridge until about 4:50 p.m., when MetroLink resumed service.

The man who died was sandblasting part of the bridge when the vessel struck the bridge. The victim then fell from his position and was killed.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s St. Louis office is investigating the death.

The man was employed by Thomas Industrial Coatings, which is based in Pevely, Missouri.

According to OSHA, three Thomas Industrial Coatings employees died in separate incidents in 2006. The company was cited as a result of each of those investigations.

• On Feb. 17, 2006, four employees were working on a scaffolding platform under the Jefferson Barracks bridge when it collapsed. Three workers were rescued. The fourth worker’s body was recovered April 18, 2006, from the river channel.

• On May 10, 2006, an employee was working from a suspended metal decked scaffold platform to paint the underside of a bridge. He fell through a hole in the decking of the scaffold, measuring 4 feet by 4 feet, and fell approximately 40 feet to the ground. He died as a result his injuries.

• On July 5, 2006, a worker was removing metal decking from a scaffold platform being dismantled and suspended under a bridge. He fell off the scaffold to the ground, approximately 35 feet below the deck and was killed.

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