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One dead, one injured at Arundel Mills slots construction site

Industrial DisastersBuilding MaterialMetal and MineralCordish Cos.

A 27-year-old construction worker from Pennsylvania was killed and another worker severely injured after officials said a precast concrete wall collapsed Friday morning at the slots parlor construction site at Arundel Mills mall.

Inspectors with the state agency charged with ensuring workplace safety are investigating the accident, the second time this month in which a worker was injured at the site.

The general contractor for the project, which is being developed by Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., closed the construction site on the parking lot of the mall until Monday.

Authorities identified the dead worker as Leon Ray Sax, 27, of Hanover, Pa. Sax had been standing inside a bucket lift of a mechanical arm when the wall fell, trapping him, said Anne Arundel County Fire Department Division Chief Michael A. Cox.

Sax's body was removed from the site after workers cleared the crumpled wall with the guidance of a structural engineer, a process Cox said was slowed by intense heat and humidity. The body was sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

A second worker, identified as Darbin Suazo-Jimenez, 25, of Manassas, Va., was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center with life-threatening injuries and was listed in critical condition Friday, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Relatives for neither worker could be reached for comment.

The incident occurred just before 10 a.m., when someone called 911 to report the accident on the mall grounds in the 7000 block of Arundel Mills Circle in Hanover, police said. Investigators have yet to determine how the wall, which was made of 25 tons of precast concrete and measured about 30 feet tall and 40 feet wide, suddenly collapsed.

Cordish Cos. is building a 4,750-machine slots parlor and entertainment complex called Maryland Live! Casino. It is expected to open with about half of the slot machines by next June, with the entire casino, restaurants and a live music venue opening by the end of 2012. A series of legal challenges had delayed the project, which began early this year. It is expected to be the state's most lucrative slots parlor.

Cordish spokeswoman Megan Slattery said in an email that the accident occurred in a "fenced-off construction area," but she offered no details and said the company did not anticipate a delay to the overall construction schedule for the project.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the workers and their families," Slattery said.

The workers were employed by L.R. Wilson & Sons, Inc., a Gambrills-based steel and precast erector company, officials said. Donald Wilson, the company president, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Commercial Interiors Inc., the project's Hanover-based general contractor, closed the site after the accident at its own discretion, said Shannon Davis, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which oversees the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health agency.

Investigators from MOSH are investigating the incident and inspecting the site and will determine if any safety protocols were breached, Davis said. She could not on Friday provide the safety inspection records for Commercial Interiors or L.R. Wilson & Sons.

A call to Commercial Interiors also went unanswered.

An inspector from the county Department of Inspections and Permits visited the site following the accident and did not find any violations, said Dave Abrams, a spokesman for County Executive John R. Leopold.

"Our chief building inspector inspected the site and found the site to be in compliance with the approved building plans," said Abrams.

Earlier this month, another worker was injured at the site when a piece of concrete fell on his leg and foot on July 5, county officials said.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

liz.kay@baltsun.com

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