Brian Kelly/Brett Blume

ST. LOUIS (KMOX)– The search for the man who fell into the Mississippi River while working on the new bridge project this morning will resume Thursday morning.

MoDOT Project Engineer Greg Horn says Wednesday’s  efforts were called off just before 4 pm, “We had a very experienced diver that went down, tried to go down twice this afternoon, but the current was really  strong in that area. He had to go down in about 30 feet of water and he could not get to the wreckage site.”

The man was working on an aerial man lift. a sort of elevated cage on wheels. on a barge, when he and the lift fell into the river at about 10:30 am.  It’s believed the lift and another piece of wreckage was spotted by sonar near the barge.

Horn says they’ll be bringing much better equipment, hoping to get more detail of what’s in the water. He says they’ll also build a coffer dam to help the divers, “The contractor’s going to go tonight and get some sheet pile from upstream bring it down here by tomorrow morning. They’re going to drive that in front of the wreckage area to calm down the current so the driver can get in.”

The victim was an employee of Massman, Traylor Brothers, Alberici of St. Louis.  His name is not being released.


Our Earlier Story:  A search-and-rescue effort is underway on the Mississippi River after a worker fell from a barge around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Officials say the employee of Massman Traylor Alberici of St. Louis, was operating a manlift, a sort of elevated cage on wheels.

“A manlift on a barge upstream from the (New Mississippi River) bridge fell into the river with a person on it,” said Greg Horn, MoDOT project director. “There’s not a whole lot we can say, we don’t know a whole lot at this point.”

He declined to provide the name or age of the missing worker, who fell in on the Illinois side of the bridge project.

Members of the Dive and Rescue team with the Swansea Fire Department were called to assist in the search.

The St. Louis Fire Department, OSHA, and the Missouri Coast Guard were also summoned to the scene.

It’s the first serious incident involving a worker since the bridge project began almost two years ago.

The bridge is slated to open in 2014.

East St. Louis fire chief Jason Blackmon says the early hours will be treated as a search and rescue, and not a recovery effort.

“As a fireman, I always have hope,” Blackmon said.


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