Construction Worker’s Death in Fall From 53rd Floor of DTLA Building Investigated as Possible Suicide

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The death of a construction worker who died after falling from the 53rd floor of the Wilshire Grand Center and landing on a passing vehicle in downtown L.A. was being investigated Friday as a possible suicide, the coroner's office told the Los Angeles Times.

The Wilshire Grand Center is shown on March 17, 2016, after a construction worker fell from the 53rd floor.

The Wilshire Grand Center is shown on March 17, 2016, after a construction worker fell from the 53rd floor. (Credit: KTLA)

Joseph Sabbatino, a 36-year-old resident of Palmdale, was on his second day of the job when he fell from the under-construction skyscraper about 12:07 p.m. Thursday, according to Lt. Smith of the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

The construction company on Thursday evening said the death was determined to be "not work-related."

On Friday, coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter told the Times that the death was reported as a possible suicide but said no final determination had been made. No suicide note was found, Winter said.

“If there’s not a note, we have to take any physical evidence into account, contact family and see if there’s any type of ideations or history,” Winter told the Times.

Sabbatino, who worked as an electrician, was pronounced dead at the scene after landing on the back of a car that was traveling on Wilshire Boulevard near Figueroa Street.

A woman in the vehicle was hospitalized in stable condition.

An occupational accident investigation was underway to determine whether Cal/OSHA’s workplace safety and health regulations were in place, Brika Monterroza, a spokesperson for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said early Friday.

The information was somewhat contrary to a statement put out Thursday evening by Turner Construction Co., which manages the building site.

An investigation continued after a construction worker fell from the 53rd floor onto a car below on March 17, 2016, in downtown L.A. (Credit: KTLA)

An investigation continued after a construction worker fell from the 53rd floor onto a car below on March 17, 2016, in downtown L.A. (Credit: KTLA)

The construction company said in an e-mailed statement hours after the fall that the incident was "not work-related."

“We have confirmed with CalOSHA and LAPD that the incident which occurred at the Wilshire Grand project site today was not work-related," Turner's statement read. "After an initial onsite investigation, Cal OSHA has confirmed that no fall-protection violations were observed."

Turner Construction Co. told the Los Angeles Times that there was no reason for Sabbatino to be above the third floor of the 73-story high-rise building.

He was "not performing any functions related to his employment or his work" at the time of the incident, a company spokeswoman said when asked what "not work-related" meant.

Wilshire Boulevard was blocked off after a construction worker fell from the Wilshire Grand Center tower on March 17, 2016. (Credit: Steve Bloom)

Wilshire Boulevard was blocked off after a construction worker fell from the Wilshire Grand Center tower on March 17, 2016.
(Credit: Steve Bloom)

Work on the skyscraper has been going on for approximately three years, the head of project management company said. About 1,000 men and women are employed on site every day.

The Wilshire Grand Center will be a mixed-use hotel and office building when it is completed, which is expected to be in 2017, according to the project's website. At 1,100 feet, it will be the tallest structure on the West Coast.

The building "topped out" just four days before the incident occurred.

Work on the project was stopped Thursday and Friday "out of respect," the construction company's statement said. Counselors would also be on hand to help workers deal with "this very difficult situation."

KTLA's Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.