A construction worker on his second day on the job died Thursday after falling from the 53rd floor of the Wilshire Grand Center tower and landing on a passing car in downtown L.A. in an incident that the construction company said was “not work-related.”
The worker fell from the under-construction building, located in the 600 block of South Figueroa Street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Firefighters were called to the scene about 12:07 p.m., according to an LAFD spokeswoman.
The victim’s body landed on a car that was traveling on Wilshire Boulevard, just west of Figueroa Street, aerial video from Sky5 showed.
The worker was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not immediately identified.
Police and state workplace safety investigators confirmed the incident was “not work-related,” according to Turner Construction Co.
Asked what “not work-related” meant, a spokeswoman for the company told KTLA that she could only say that the man who died was “not performing any functions related to his employment or his work” when he died.
She said the company could not comment more specifically until the coroner’s investigation was complete and the man’s family had been notified.
“Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased,” Turner Construction Co. said in a statement. “We are also sending our deepest sympathies to our loyal and dedicated workers for whom today’s tragedy is deeply saddening.”
The female driver of the white hatchback, which appeared to have out-of-state plates, was taken to a local hospital where she was in stable condition, and Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Barry Montgomery said.
The worker’s body had landed on the back end of the car, witnesses said.
A Los Angeles Times staff photographer was on assignment on the tower’s 71st floor when he heard a loud thump and saw the man’s body below, the newspaper reported.
“It sounded like a bag of cement fell off the edge of the building,” photographer Mel Melcon said.
A woman riding by the area saw something falling from the building, but had no idea it was a person.
“I thought that it was a piece if metal that they had dropped from the building,” witness Alesia Lewis said.
A stretch of Wilshire Boulevard was closed off in both directions shortly after 1 p.m., aerial video showed. Traffic was also shut down on Seventh, Figueroa and Flower streets, according to the Times.
Officials from the county coroner’s office and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, aka Cal/OSHA, were on scene.
Work on the building been going on for about three years, with some 1,000 men and women employed on site every day, said Chris Martin, CEO of architecture firm AC Martin and Martin Project Management, both of which are involved in the development.
Martin spoke with reporters at the scene, saying that the worker was on his second day at the site, where he was employed as an electrician. It was not clear why he would have been doing electrical work at the edge of the building, Martin said.
Work on the project was stopped Thursday and will be stopped Friday, Turner Construction Co. said. Counselors were set to be made available for workers.
“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 is the general contractor on the project, while AC Martin is the architect, and Martin Project Management is the project manager, according to a spokesman for Turner.
The 1,100-foot tall skyscraper had just “topped out” at 73 stories four days before the death. The structure, when completed, will overtake the U.S. Bank Tower as the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.
KTLA’s Feven Kiflegiorgis contributed to this story.