Worker dies after construction accident

A construction worker died Tuesday after being injured at PARTA’s Kent Central Gateway transit center construction site in downtown Kent.

Lockhart Concrete Company worker Russell Hirschfelt, 49, of Barberton, died at 6:17 p.m. Tuesday after being injured at 10:45 a.m. at the construction site, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Julie Weis, acting area director for the Cleveland Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said a compliance officer was at the site Tuesday shortly after the accident occurred to conduct an investigation, which included collecting statements and witness’ accounts. The investigation continued Wednesday.

Weis said the legal time frame for OSHA to collect information for the investigation is six months. She said she does not know if the investigation will include PARTA as well as Lockhart Concrete Company, who is contracted by PARTA for the Kent Central Gateway project.

“We’re such at the beginning stages of the investigation that I cannot comment on who will be held responsible,” Weis said.

Lockhart Concrete Company has not had any past violations with OSHA.

Work on the site is temporarily suspended as the investigation continues, according to the PARTA press release.

Kent Fire Department Capt. John Tosko said it appeared the worker was walking in the area next to an excavator when the back end swung around and pinned Hirschfelt against four slabs of concrete. The man was stuck between the heavy machinery and concrete slabs for about 30 seconds. When the fire department showed up, the worker was lying on the ground. He was conscious and responsive when he was taken to Akron City Hospital, Tosko said.

“PARTA is saddened by the news that the construction worker hurt yesterday was fatally injured and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and fellow workers,” the press release stated.

Rachel Hagenbaugh is a city reporter and Britni Williams is the city editor for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected] and contact Britni Williams at [email protected].