Workers Dive into Lake as Bridge Slips at Indiana Casino

July 23, 2008

A covered walkway being attached to a floating casino on Lake Michigan collapsed Tuesday when it slipped from a barge supporting it, sending 16 construction workers into the water, a fire official said.

One of the workers was taken to a hospital complaining of shoulder pain, but the 15 others were treated at the scene for minor injuries such as cuts and bruises, said Kevin Margraf, chief fire inspector for the Hammond, Ind. Fire Department.

Margraf said the workers were using sledgehammers to adjust a shoring connected to the barge that held up the newly constructed metal passageway for the new Horseshoe Casino when the barge shifted beneath the walkway and it fell onto the barge.

“The shoring may have gotten out of kilter, out of balance and it caused the barge to kick out, it slipped out and the 16 individuals who were on the barge fell or jumped into the water,” Margraf said. “They were trying to hook up this passageway.”

He said the workers fell or jumped about 10 feet into the water.

Horseshoe is nearly finished building a new $485 million casino boat on the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan, just across the state line from Chicago.

Margraf said he did not immediately know whether the U.S. Coast Guard or the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration would investigate the accident.

The workers, all members of Iron Workers Local 395, were wearing lifejackets on the job according to Coast Guard regulations, said Mike Summers, the local’s business manager.

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