Archive for Friday, August 11, 2000

Divers recover worker’s body

August 11, 2000

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— Divers have recovered the body of one of three construction workers dragged under water as a support beam collapsed at a construction site in Stillhouse Hollow Lake.

The men were working for MW Builders Inc., a Leawood, Kan.-based general contractor.

Crispin Rodriguez, 64, of Temple was pronounced dead Wednesday night.

Following the body recovery, law officers suspended the search for the other two missing workers until 7 a.m. Thursday. They were presumed to have died when the column, about 50 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter, to which they were clipped had collapsed.

"We had one professional diver down there, and he was physically unable to continue," Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith told the Killeen Daily Herald. "He also said it was too hazardous and that we may have to cut away part of the structure."

The other missing workers were identified as Jim Bates, 27, of Salado; and James DePriest, 27, of Belton.

"It seems the concrete exploded from the bottom of the structure," Smith told the Temple Daily Telegram. "Eighty tons of concrete and steel were thrown into the water at impact."

About a dozen relatives waited anxiously as the county's six-person dive team searched for the workers. Some family members paced back and forth wiping their tear-stained faces.

"We're dealing with a structure that is heavy, complex and as far as we know unstable," Smith said. "If they are under the structure, we are in an area where we cannot get to them safely."

Members of a New Orleans professional dive team and divers from the Texas Department of Public Safety also were scheduled to arrive at the lake by Thursday morning when the search resumed, Smith said.

The men were about 50 to 75 feet off the shore pouring a concrete column. The column was to support a pumping station on the lake as part of a pipeline to Lake Georgetown.

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