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Lind Marine employee killed after structure collapses on him atop silo

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A 31-year-old Fairfield man working atop an old silo along the Petaluma River died from his injuries Friday after getting trapped under a conveyor system that collapsed on him.

The man was an employee of Petaluma-based dredging contractor Lind Marine, which owns the riverside property where the accident occurred.

Firefighters were dispatched to the property in the 100 block of East D Street shortly after noon for a 911 call for medical assistance that was quickly upgraded to a rescue operation, said Petaluma Fire Battalion Chief Chad Costa. Kayakers passing below the East D Street bridge reported to authorities they saw a large metal tower fall, and heard someone screaming for help.

Petaluma Fire and EMS arrived at the industrial property near the north end of Steamer Landing Park to find a man trapped on the top of an unused silo about 50 feet off the ground, Costa said. Another worker was attempting to free him, but the structure that had fallen was too heavy to move alone.

The victim was identified by police as a Fairfield resident, but authorities withheld his name Friday.

He had sustained “significant” chest injuries after using a cutting torch to dismantle a heavy metal casing for a conveyor motor, Costa said.

During that process, the entire system collapsed, trapping the man underneath, said California Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesman Frank Polizzi. The agency was notified of the accident and is investigating “to identify violations of workplace safety regulations,” he said in a statement.

After firefighters arrived and helped free him from beneath the heap of metal, he was brought down a 35-foot ladder in a webbing package to prevent further injury, Costa said.

The man was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he died from his injuries, Polizzi said.

First responders initially couldn’t get access to the property, so a police officer used a patrol vehicle to break open a gate, said Petaluma Lt. Tim Lyons.

Christian Lind, president of Lind Marine, declined identify the affected employee, citing company privacy policies. He was not familiar with the work the man was doing prior to the accident.

The family-owned company ships by barge half a million tons of sand to construction companies in Napa and Sonoma counties each year.

Fellow employees were grieving Friday, Lind said.

“He’s loved and respected by us and his coworkers, and they’re all suffering, too, right now,” he said. “The only two concerns we have are the welfare of his family and finding out what happened and how it happened. We’re doing everything we can to investigate and cooperate with OSHA. That’s what we can do right now and we’ll do anything we can for the family.”

You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or will.schmitt@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @wsreports. You can reach Staff Writer Yousef Baig at 707-521-5390 or yousef.baig@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @YousefBaig.

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