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Worker killed in crane accident at sewer district construction site in Shrewsbury

Worker killed in crane accident at sewer district construction site in Shrewsbury

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SHREWSBURY — A man working the overnight shift for contractor SAK Construction was killed in an accident here early Tuesday at a Metropolitan Sewer District construction site.

A crane swung and struck Shawn Pritchett, 35, of Montgomery City, at about 3 a.m. The accident scene, near Carr Lane Court just north of Interstate 44, is part of a $150 million construction contract for the Deer Creek tunnel project, which runs through 2022.

After the fatality, O’Fallon, Missouri-based SAK shut down the job site for the day, MSD spokesman Sean Hadley said. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent an investigator to the scene. And SAK released a statement:

“We do not yet have all the details of this accident, and a thorough investigation is underway,” it said. “We extend our deepest sympathy to the family of our employee.”

Hadley said it’s the first work-related death on an MSD job site since 2011, when a worker with Unnerstall Contracting collapsed in a sewer and died at a hospital about an hour later. Last year, a contractor delivering concrete in Berkeley got hit in the hip by a stray bullet and died the next day.

And in 1992, a worker employed by tunnel and boring contractor Affholder Inc. died after scalding water surged into an MSD tunnel in which he was working. Bob Affholder, who started Affholder Inc., is a founder of SAK.

But SAK spokesman Jim Kalishman said it’s the first serious work-site injury in the history of SAK, founded in 2006.

“We’ve never had any incidents like this,” Kalishman said.

Shrewsbury police Chief Lisa Vargas said officers were called at 3:05 a.m. Tuesday to 4238 Carr Lane Court. She referred questions about the job site to OSHA.

The man who was killed was a third-shift worker in the project that has crews working around the clock.

“He was on the surface of the tunnel and hit by a crane,” Hadley said.

MSD awarded the $150 million construction contract for the Deer Creek tunnel project in the summer of 2017. It picked SAK Construction as its contractor, and Kansas City-based Black & Veatch as the construction manager.

Crews are boring into deep rock, 150 to 250 feet below ground, for the tunnel that will be 19 feet in diameter. The tunnel will collect storm water that Deer Creek’s current sewer system can’t handle in moderate to heavy rains, preventing basement backups and sewer overflows, MSD said.

Construction is expected to be finished in September 2022.

The Deer Creek tunnel will be nearly 4 miles long, extending from Clayton Road in the city of Clayton to Interstate 44 in Shrewsbury.

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