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Gaming Guru

Arnold M. Knightly
 

Carpenter killed in fall at Boyd's Echelon project

17 June 2008

and Howard Stutz

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The death toll at Strip construction sites continued to rise Monday, this time at Boyd Gaming Corp.'s Echelon project site with the death of a 49-year-old carpenter who fell about 15 feet and suffered fatal head injuries after landing on his head.

The construction worker's death was the first one at the $4.8 billion Echelon site, but it was the 12th construction-related death to have occurred at Strip construction sites in the past 18 months.

The carpenter was identified by sources as Lyndall Bates, 49, of Tempe, Ariz. They said Bates was taking down scaffolding in the basement level of the Echelon tower when the accident occurred. A fire official said Bates died at the scene.

Bates was a member of Carpenters Union 1780, which could not be reached for comment.

All work at the Echelon site was suspended after the early morning Monday accident, according to a statement released through Boyd Gaming.

"Marnell, Tishman and Boyd Gaming are cooperating fully with (Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and all other appropriate agencies to determine the cause of this morning's accident," according to the statement.

Tishman Construction is the construction manager for Echelon and Marnell Corrao Associates is the concrete prime contractor. The carpenter was working for Marnell Corrao.

A spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Business and Industry said the state OSHA has already started an investigation of the accident, but the office does not comment on open investigations.

News of the latest Strip construction fatality spread quickly to other construction sites Monday morning, according to construction workers at MGM Mirage's $9.2 billion CityCenter site, where six workers have died in the past 16 months, and the $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan site, where two workers have been killed.

Workers Monday afternoon were reluctant to discuss the latest fatality or give their names for publication, citing concerns about retribution from their bosses and a directive from union leadership. Several of the workers declined to place blame on the individuals, contractors or the unions for the string of fatalities.

The Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council, however, forced a one-day walkout at the CityCenter and Cosmopolitan projects earlier this month because of concerns that Perini Building Co., the general contractor at the two work sites, was not adequately addressing the council's safety concerns.

The union workers returned to work the next day after Perini agreed to all of the council's demands, including allowing union and safety officials on site at all times and instituting safety training for all workers.

The Nevada Occupational and Safety Administration, with assistance from the federal OSHA, is conducting a safety review of the two sites.

In the joint statement with Tishman Construction and Marnell Corrao Associates, Boyd Gaming said the priority at Echelon is to ensure a safe construction site.

However, one worker wearing an Ironworkers Local 433 shirt said construction workers are feeling pressure to meet construction deadlines at the Strip project sites.

"They push us hard to meet deadlines," the worker said.

Boyd is building the five-hotel resort and casino complex on 87 acres, much of which once housed the Stardust.

Formal ground breaking took place a year ago.

In addition to the 2,300-room Hotel Echelon, the site includes a 650-room all suite hotel and three boutique hotels operated by Shangri-La, Mondrian and Delano. The hotels will be connected to 140,000-square-foot casino, 300,000 square feet of retail, two theaters, more than 30 restaurants and 750,000 square feet of meeting space.

Echelon is expected to open in 2010.