Three men working on the Charter Square construction project in Raleigh recently died after a mast climber collapsed. The construction site accident occurred as workers were lowering and dismantling the scaffolding. Multiple witnesses, including downtown Raleigh drivers, reported seeing men falling through the air as the work platform crashed into the side of the building about 200 feet off the ground.

The work accident claimed the lives of two Durham men, ages 33 and 41, and a 33-year old Clinton worker. A fourth construction worker was rescued by witnesses after being found upside down in a portable toilet. The 53-year-old man was hospitalized with unidentified serious injuries.

Investigators have yet to confirm whether the victims were standing on the scaffolding when the midday accident occurred. A rescuer said the lone survivor was wearing a harness when he was located. It was not immediately clear whether the man and his co-workers were secured to the 11-story building when the mast climber gave way.

Authorities received reports from people inside and outside Charter Square. One man heard a snapping sound before pieces of the platform littered the air, while others said the sound was more like a blast. A co-worker inside the structure sensed danger when he felt the scaffolding shaking but was unable to reach any of the victims before the collapse.

The general contractor for the now-suspended work project is an out-of-state firm — Choate Construction. The mast climber was operated by a local company called Associated Scaffolding. Federal and state workplace safety inspectors are involved in the investigation as well as local law enforcement officers.

North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits are paid to injured workers and members of a deceased worker’s surviving family for wage losses and medical expenses. Employers generally cannot be held liable for workplace injuries or deaths. However, negligent third parties are not immune from legal claims for damages.

Source: WRAL, ” 3 dead, 1 injured in downtown Raleigh construction accident,” Brian Shrader, Monica Laliberte and Laura Leslie, March. 24, 2015