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Labor union leader calls Bellagio death a ‘freak accident’; 911 audio released

Updated September 27, 2023 - 11:31 am

A labor union leader described the incident that led to the death of a construction worker over the weekend at the Bellagio fountains as a “freak accident.”

Tommy White, secretary/treasurer of Laborer’s International Union of North America Local 872, said he’s been told by workers at the site that an issue with a “quickie saw” Saturday led to the accident that killed 37-year-old Tizoc Antonio of Las Vegas.

“It wasn’t a safety issue, all the safety protocol was in place, it’s just that the blade bound up on the quickie saw and it ran up on the (steel) column and the saw kicked back at him,” White said. “I’ve seen those saws kick back … the last place you want to be is in the way of that saw kicking backwards.”

Cutoff saws, nicknamed “quickie saws,” are portable and used to make quick cuts on various materials on construction sites. They have the potential to be dangerous because they have unguarded blades that operate at high speeds, according to the Missouri Department of Labor.

On Tuesday, Las Vegas police released audio of a 911 call from a woman who reported that “the saw bounced and hit” the worker.

The caller stayed on the phone for more than seven minutes, directing ambulances to the construction site.

“There’s blood everywhere,” she said. “Please just send an ambulance.”

The caller told police that the injured man, whose age and name she did not know, was still breathing when co-workers put their shirts on his neck and applied pressure.

Co-workers began performing CPR while the woman directed ambulances to the scene. She said the injury was accidental and not intentional.

Four minutes into the call, the woman said the worker stopped breathing.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday that Carma Group is the general contractor on the project, with Standard Steel listed as the employer. OSHA has open inspections with both companies tied to the accident, spokeswoman Teri Williams noted. Williams was unable to confirm the details of the accident, citing the open investigation.

OSHA noted Standard Steel had one previous inspection in December 2021, when the company was cited for a record-keeping violation. The administration didn’t note any previous inspections involving Carma.

Representatives from Carma didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment via phone and email Tuesday morning.

Crews are constructing temporary spectator grandstands at the Bellagio for November’s inaugural Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix.

White noted that there are no members of his union working directly for Carma at the site, but some members have worked for them as subcontractors.

“All my subs (subcontractors) say that they’re (Carma) a good general contractor,” White said. “I don’t think an issue like this could’ve been prevented. It wasn’t fall protection, it wasn’t anything that could’ve been put up to stop it from happening. It’s a shame and our hearts go out to the family.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X. Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on X.

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