Barge accident knocks 7 workers into Smithville Lake - KCTV5 News

Barge accident knocks 7 workers into Smithville Lake

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SMITHVILLE, MO (KCTV) -

Seven barge workers were rescued from Smithville Lake after an accident Friday morning.

One person was rushed by medical helicopter from the scene. Six workers were taken by ground ambulance to hospitals.

Missouri Highway Patrol said the incident occurred about 9:15 a.m. The workers were doing bridge work on County Road W at Smithville Lake. 

MHP Sgt. Bill Lowe said the workers were installing steel support beams on the bridge's underside. Too many beams on one side caused the barge to become unbalanced.

Realizing the barge was about to capsize, the workers jumped into the frigid waters.

"One of the beams was too heavy on one side," Lowe said. "When that happened, the platform overturned and the workers on there jumped into the water."

The workers were in the lake for up to 15 minutes before they were hauled out.

The worker rushed by medical helicopter to a hospital was an older gentleman, and rescue crews wanted him checked out immediately as a precaution, officials said.

Six workers were treated and released at area hospitals.

A seventh worker remains hospitalized and will be kept overnight. But the worker is going to be OK. That worker, who has worked for the construction company for 20 years, suffered hypothermia. He was in the water the longest.

The workers were working for APAC Construction, which had contracted with the Missouri Department of Transportation for the project.

"Safety is very important to us," Davis Guilliaume, the company's president, said. "Everyone was wearing their life preservers and we had a safety boat on the scene."

Guilliaume said the company will do its own analysis and work with investigators to determine what happened.

"And if we did anything wrong, how we can prevent this from happening again," Guilliaume said.

A crane on the bridge was lowering metal beams onto the barge when the accident occurred in an area east of Paradise Point.

The barge remained Friday upside down in the water. The company will work to remove the barge and the steel. Vehicles can continue to use the bridge.

APAC was in the headlines in 2006 when a worker died during bridge work at the Grandview Triangle at U.S. 71 and Interstate 435. The company also saw fatal accidents in 2000 and 2004.

KCTV5's Sandra Olivas asked Guilliaume about the company's safety record.

"Any accident is one too many for us," he said. "We do everything we can to learn from the unfortunate things that sometimes happen. We expect to learn from this as well. We don't want anyone to get hurt. We want everybody to go home in as good of condition as they came to work in and hopefully we can learn from this as well."

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.

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