Construction worker dies nearly 2 weeks after falling from bridge near I-16 and Spring Street

A construction worker who fell more than 30 feet from a new bridge near Interstate 16 and Spring Street died Tuesday after more than a week in the hospital.

Jason Searcy, an employee for C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. who was working on building the bridge from which he fell, died in the surgical trauma intensive care unit at the Medical Center, Navicent Health, just before 4 p.m., Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.

The 45-year-old from Ivey fell about 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, into a ravine that is below the bridge being constructed near the I-16 eastbound off ramp, according to an incident report from the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies arrived, Searcy was “laying prone in a ravine” with a pool of blood surrounding his head. His hard hat and a piece of metal decking were lying about 5 feet from his body, the report said.

One of Searcy’s co-workers told deputies that Searcy was carrying a piece of wood when a piece of metal decking he was walking on “gave way,” the report said.

It is not the first time in recent years that a C.W. Matthews employee died working on Georgia roads, according to U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration records.

Early one morning last February, a 42-year-old employee was working in a work zone alongside Interstate 85 northbound in Suwanee when a motorist drove into the zone and hit him with a car. The employee died there at the scene between exits 111 and 113, according to a fatality report on OSHA’s website.

One afternoon in October 2016, a C.W. Matthews employee died while working on King Bridge Road in Williamson. The employee was walking alongside a paver when a truck delivering asphalt bumped him on the back “causing him to fall against the paver. The paver pulled him under the machine and he was killed,” according to the fatality report.

In March 2016, the company was cited for three fall-related risk violations totaling a $21,000 penalty after an OSHA inspected company crews replacing the Interstate 75 bridge over Ga. 3 and U.S. 41 in Rocky Face. The inspection said that C.W. Matthews failed to provide safe access for employees dismantling a scaffold platform located about 22 feet above the next lower level, “exposing the employees to a fall hazard.”

Another violation was that the company “shall have a competent person determine the feasibility and safety of providing fall protection for employees,” according to the inspection.

In June 2010, C.W. Matthews was cited for “failure to provide proper fall protection” during a project in Lilburn and was fined $4,500.

Sheldon Fram, director of risk management for Marietta-based C.W. Matthews, said in an email to The Telegraph that Searcy was hired July 30.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be focused on Mr. Searcy and his family,” Fram wrote. “That is our foremost concern at this difficult time.”

Laura Corley covers education news for The Telegraph, where she advocates for government transparency and writes about issues affecting today’s youth. She grew up in Middle Georgia and graduated from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.