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Man killed after towboat hits Eads Bridge, knocking worker off platform

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UPDATED at 11:45 a.m. Friday with age of victim

ST. LOUIS • A man working on the Eads Bridge was killed about 3 p.m. Thursday when a southbound towboat ran into the bridge, St. Louis Fire Department officials said.

The impact caused the 24-year-old man to fall from some scaffolding on which he was vacuuming and land on the towboat. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

The victim's name hasn't been released.

The bridge was closed to traffic for a time. MetroLink used a shuttle to transport its riders between its East St. Louis and Busch Stadium stops for a time, but train service resumed shortly before 5 p.m.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the case. OSHA said the man was employed by Thomas Industrial Coatings based in Peveley.

OSHA said three employees of Thomas Industrial Coatings died in separate incidents in 2006, and OSHA cited the company in each of those cases.

On Feb. 17 of that year, four employees were working on a scaffolding platform under the Jefferson Barracks Bridge when it collapsed. Three workers were rescued and the fourth worker's body was recovered two months later in the river.

On May 10, a worker died after falling through a 4-feet-by-4-feet hole in the decking of some scaffolding on the Lexington Avenue Bridge in Kansas City. On July 5, a worker died in a fall from the same bridge.

Rhonda Burke, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labor, said it may be too early in the investigation of Thursday's incident to say if the worker was wearing the proper protective equipment, but he would have been required to have water safety equipment like a life vest.

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