59-year-old construction worker dies in demolition of bridge over 91 freeway

RIVERSIDE – A construction worker fell to his death early on May 17 when a railroad bridge over the 91 freeway in Riverside buckled during its demolition and partly collapsed, and snarled traffic in both directions until midday.

California Highway Patrol officers were dispatched at 3:17 a.m. to the Pachappa Railroad crossing between 14th Street and Central Avenue over the westbound lanes of the freeway. The bridge was being demolished as part of the 91 freeway expansion when a component on the bridge apparently buckled, Cal Trans spokeswoman Terri

Kasinga said.

The movement caused the section where the subcontract worker, identified by the coroner’s office as Okesene Faasalele, 59, of Long Beach, was harnessed to collapse.

That portion of the bridge twisted during the fall and swung Faasalele to the westbound lanes below, Kasinga said.

The road had been closed to traffic during the demolition. It was not known what caused the bridge to move as an investigation was ongoing, Cal Trans spokeswoman Michelle Profant said.

Faasalene was taken to Riverside Community Hospital where he died of his injuries at 4 a.m., the Riverside County Coroner’s Office reported.

He worked for a subcontractor called Hard Rock, said Kasinga, who wasn’t sure where the company was based.

Traffic on both sides of the freeway between Seventh Street and Adams Avenue had been closed since 11 p.m. Saturday, but the closure had been extended because of the fatality. All westbound lanes of the 91 freeway had re-opened as of 2:08 p.m. while only two lanes on the other side remained closed, Profant said.

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