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Falling beam kills worker at Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center construction site

Emergency medical technicians from F-M Ambulance and West Fargo police investigators load the body of a construction worker into an ambulance Friday at the site of the Sheyenne high school expansion in West Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

WEST FARGO - A 30-year-old Fargo man died Friday in a construction accident after a 28-foot steel beam fell on him at the high school addition to Sheyenne 9th Grade Center, police said.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene, said West Fargo police Detective Derek Cruff.

Cruff did not provide the name of the man but said he worked for Scott's Electric of Wahpeton.

A woman who called The Forum and identified herself as a family member also declined to share his name.

The beam had been bolted into place but somehow came loose, Cruff said.

He said the worker was wearing a hard hat at the time of the accident. He declined to say what injuries the worker suffered that led to his death.

Eight to 10 other construction workers were in the area when the beam fell, Cruff said. No other injuries were reported.

The accident was reported shortly before noon. Workers at the site packed up their equipment and left about noon.

An hour later, a worker used a large mobile lift to remove two large tubs of concrete from scaffolding near the accident site and a waiting ambulance then backed up to an area partially enclosed by cinderblock walls.

F-M Ambulance personnel carried a body into the waiting ambulance at 1:21 p.m.

Inspectors from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived at the job site about 1:30 p.m. and talked with police and contractors, and looked over the accident scene.

West Fargo School Superintendent David Flowers and Business Manager Mark Lemer were both out of town and neither had information to add.

Flowers said he was saddened by the news.

"It certainly is tragic news to hear," Flowers said.

Students at the Sheyenne 9th Grade Center were told about the accident by way of a handout message read by their teachers, said Assistant Principal Pam Cronin.

Cronin said the students were told that a death had been reported at the construction site on the north end of the building.

She said it was difficult to determine how students were processing the news.

"Kids handle it in many different ways. It's hard to say right now," Cronin said.

The walls going up at the site are for an academic addition needed to turn the 9th Grade Center into Sheyenne High School. The academic addition is planned for completion by fall 2013.

Work on a gymnasium and fine arts addition to Sheyenne will start next spring and should be complete by fall 2014.

Liberty Middle School is also under construction directly to the north of the 9th Grade Center.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583