David Dupee of Bozrah, Conn., was employed by TDA Construction, Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., the company contracted to work on painting and repair of the span. He was believed to be removing a canopy on the northeastern deck of the bridge when he fell 70 feet onto the gravel access road that runs below.
At the time of the incident, workers from the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority were trimming grass and brush in the area below the bridge when they heard the man fall. They immediately ran to the location of the body.
One of the workers, who wished to remain anonymous, said he called 9-1-1 and checked the man for a pulse. He said that he could detect a faint pulse and felt the man for signs of breathing. After a couple of short gasps for air, the worker said the man’s face turned colorless.
Police secured the area as a crime scene, ushering several men who were wearing hardhats away from the body. As they walked the gravel road toward Lower Ferry Road, some of them covered their faces with their hands. Another could be heard praying softly.
The victim was transported to Rhode Island Hospital and investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were called in to assess the circumstances of the incident.
The bridge remained open, however the authority stopped work on both the Newport Pell and Mt. Hope bridges pending a review of safety procedures and requirements.
David Darlington, chairman of the authority, released the following statement:
“On behalf of the board of directors and employees of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the worker’s family, friends, colleagues and loved ones for their loss.”