Mark Freeman and Kenneth Krason were killed and Thomas Fischer was critically injured in a Port Everglades, Florida construction accident on Friday, news sources report. Freeman, 51, of Coconut Creek and Krason, 49, of Boca Raton died at the scene. Fischer, 49, of Margate sustained serious injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Detectives are currently conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the accident. The accident may have been a result of negligence and could result in a number of lawsuits from the victims and their families.
Reports say the accident occurred on Friday at a dock in Port Everglades. Freeman, Krason, and Fischer were public employees and were on the scene helping to mend a portable gangway, which connects cruise ships to dock terminals. A scissor lift, or a raised platform that can hold workers, was being used at the scene. For reasons that are currently under investigation, the scissor lift fell over. It is not clear whether the three victims fell off the scissor lift or were trapped under it by the fall.
Paramedics arrived at the construction site and purportedly pronounced both Freeman and Krason dead at the scene. Fischer was rushed to a nearby hospital, where doctors performed emergency surgery, sources indicate. His condition remained critical through Saturday; a more recent update has not been released. It is not yet known whether he will survive.
Following the accident, a representative for the construction team commented on the incident, saying, “We treat safety as our number one priority here. We have training programs in place. We are trying to understand exactly what happened [at the time of the accident].” It is not yet clear whether safety procedure or a mechanical defect may have contributed to the accident.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which normally investigates work-related calamities, was not authorized to investigate Friday’s accident. “Because they are public employees, per federal law, OSHA doesn’t have jurisdiction,” a spokesperson said. Due to this, another public agency, likely a police division, will investigate the accident.
A spokesperson for OSHA mentioned that scissor lifts can be dangerous in windy weather or if they are weighted down by too heavy of a load. However, reports say the weather Friday was sunny, with wind speeds around 8 to 13 miles per hour. Such lifts can be safely operated in winds up to 28 miles per hour, sources say. Another danger may be presented by operating the lift on uneven ground, though a spokesperson says scissor lifts have built in precautions for such events. “It won’t go up if it’s not on level ground, the manufacturer builds that in,” the spokesperson said. “They don’t want them to fall over. If it’s sitting on an angle, it won’t go high.”
A homicide investigation is currently ongoing. A spokesperson for ABC Rentals, the company that leased the lift that fell in Friday’s incident, said scissor lift accidents are “100 percent preventable [if workers] plan ahead to get the job done safely, provide the right equipment and train everyone to use the equipment safely.” The cause of the accident has yet to be revealed.