Fatal fall of L.A. worker from unfinished high-rise probed as suicide

The fatal fall of a construction worker from an unfinished L.A. skyscraper is under investigation as a possible suicide, the medical examiner’s office says.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (MARCH 17, 2016) (REUTERS) – The fatal fall of a construction worker from the 53rd floor of an unfinished skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles, soon to be the tallest on the West Coast, is under investigation as a possible suicide, the medical examiner’s office said on Friday (March 18).

The worker was publicly identified by the county coroner as Joseph Sabbatino, 36, whose death on Thursday marked the first fatality on the site, according to the project’s New York-based general contractor, Turner Construction Company.

Representatives from Turner have said that Sabbatino, an electrician who was on his second day of work at the Wilshire Grand project, had no reason to be above the third floor of the 73-story high-rise when he plunged to his death.

Turner said the death was “not work-related” and that safety and police investigators found no sign of “fall-protection violations” in connection with the incident.

Lieutenant David Smith of the Los Angeles County coroner, said the perimeter of the 53rd floor was enclosed by an 8-foot-high metal safety barrier intended to keep construction workers, building materials or tools from spilling out of the tower.

Based on those and other circumstances, medical examiners were investigating Sabbatino’s death as a possible suicide, Smith said.

Eyewitnesses, according to The Los Angeles Times, said Sabbatino did not appear to have been wearing a safety harness or hard hat.

The incident occurred at midday in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The worker landed on a moving car on the street below. A woman driving the car was reported uninjured.

The Wilshire Grand, a 1,100-foot (335 meter) hotel and office tower being developed by Korean Airlines, is set to rank as the tallest structure west of the Mississippi upon its completion next year, surpassing the U.S. Bank Tower a few blocks away.

About 1,000 workers are on the site on any given day, according to Turner.