Tom Turner never asked his employees to do something he wouldn’t do himself, his brother said.
"He never put anyone in harm’s way."
On Monday, Paul Turner watched as his younger brother’s body was brought up from 600 feet underground after a fatal accident at a Lake Mead construction site.
As Tom Turner and others were working on the third intake project, a new straw into Lake Mead that will pump more drinking water into the valley, a pressurized blast of grout, mud and fist-sized rocks struck the 44-year-old in the head.
Those nearby said it "sounded like a bomb going off," said Paul Turner, who had just returned home after his morning shift at the site. Tom Turner died instantly, and another man suffered minor injuries.
The two brothers saw each other nearly every day: in passing as Paul Turner’s shift ended and Tom Turner’s began, or in their neighborhood just off U.S. Highway 95 and Boulder Highway in Henderson, where they lived blocks apart.
Tom Turner had been working on the tunnel with Vegas Tunnel Constructors for the past 3½ years, his brother said. The Turner brothers broke into the risky and specialized tunneling business together 17 years ago in San Diego building a pipeline into the Pacific Ocean.
A well-liked, hardworking supervisor on the swing shift at Lake Mead, Tom Turner would bring in barbecue, soda and Gatorade for his workers to eat, drink and bond, Paul Turner said.
Each told him something similar: "I know he’s your brother, but I felt like he was my own brother."
Since word of Tom Turner’s death spread, others in the business around the country have called to offer their sympathies to Paul Turner and to Tom Turner’s wife, Michelle, and his two children, Eric, 11, and Emily, 8.
"Every guy looked up to him. Not one guy would say a bad thing about him," Paul Turner said.
Review-Journal reporter Mike Blasky contributed to this report. Contact Kyle Potter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0391.