Electrical worker dies at Lubbock hospital after incident at construction site of Amarillo’s new Xcel building
An electrician who was severely shocked Saturday while working on the future downtown headquarters of Xcel Energy in Amarillo died from his injuries Sunday morning at a Lubbock hospital.
His supervisor remained hospitalized Sunday.
Roper Copelin, 30, died at 4:42 a.m. Sunday at the University Medical Center Timothy J. Harnar Regional Burn Center in Lubbock, his mother, Tangela Copelin, said.
The other worker, Keath Garrison, Copelin’s boss, is also being treated at the burn center in Lubbock, she said.
“They’re giving Keath a better prognosis,” Tangela Copelin said in a telephone interview from her home in Hedley, Texas. “He’s been responsive but he’s got burns over 30 percent of his body plus he inhaled the smoke.”
She said her son Roper was single and lived in Amarillo and had been working alongside Garrison at A1 Electric for about four years.
“When they were behind on jobs they would work on Saturdays,” Copelin’s mother said. “They worked together a lot, and whenever he could Keath would ask for Roper. They were much more than just coworkers.”
Garrison is married and has two children, Tangela Copelin said.
GoFundMe accounts for Copelin and Garrison and their families - click on names to visit - have been set up online by Landon Shane Walker.
Garrison and Copelin were drilling on the second floor of a parking garage under construction in a building that is the future home of Xcel Energy at the corner of Eigth Avenue and Buchanan Street when the incident occurred, according to investigators.
Southwest General Contractors and Opus Design Build, L.L.C., plus a number of other subcontractors, are involved in the construction.
“Work at the site has been suspended for the weekend following the incident,” Opus spokesperson Meagan Pick said Sunday in a statement. “Opus is investigating the cause of the incident. Our sympathies and prayers are with the families of the two workers.”
Employees on the scene Saturday said the two workers may have made contact with electrical lines.
A first alarm sent firefighters to the scene where a fire was reported to be burning.
Amarillo firefighters responded to the blaze at 1:47 p.m., five minutes after the call first came in to dispatch.
A second alarm was immediately sounded and 26 firefighters from eight units brought the fire under control at 2 p.m.
The two severely injured men were transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries, according to Amarillo Fire Department spokesman Capt. Larry Davis. The firefighters cleared smoke that had risen to the building’s higher floors after the blaze was extinguished.
Later, the two injured workers were transported to the burn center in Lubbock.
The Amarillo Fire Marshal’s Office and Amarillo Police Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit are investigating the incident.
The building, when completed, will include four stories of offices located on top of a three-story parking garage.
AMARILLO, TEXAS - UPDATE:
Southwest General Contractors, a subcontractor of Opus Design Build L.L.C., confirms one of the construction workers taken to the hospital, yesterday, has died.
In a statement, the company writes, "Our sympathies and prayers are with the families of the two workers."
Emergency crews battled a fire at the new Xcel Energy building in Downtown Amarillo. It's located at the intersection of 7th Ave. and Buchanan St.
Just before 1:45 p.m., the Amarillo Fire Department responded to a report of smoke coming from the building which is still under construction.
According to the department, employees were reporting there were two victims inside that were severely burned. Crews found two construction workers that were burned and possibly electrocuted. The two victims were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Crews located the fire on the second floor where they were able to keep it contained. Employees on scene reported that two construction workers were drilling into an electrical box and may have made contact with energized lines.
The Amarillo Fire Marshal's office is investigating.
Opus Design Build, L.L.C, the national company overseeing construction, released this statement to KAMR Local 4 News and Fox 14 News, this evening:
"An incident occurred Saturday afternoon at SPS Amarillo Headquarters, an office project under construction in Amarillo, Texas. The incident involved two employees of a subcontractor that had been hired by a subcontractor of Opus Design Build, L.L.C. Work at the site has been suspended for the weekend following the incident. Opus is investigating the cause of the incident."
AMARILLO - A construction worker is dead and another is in critical condition after an incident in Downtown Amarillo this weekend.
It was a wet Saturday but worked still continued on at the new Xcel Energy building in Downtown Amarillo.
That was until an electrical incident happened involving two construction workers.
"They were drilling in some type of box and possibly made some type of contact with a very high amperage either line or device something like that caused a huge arc, the electrocution and then the ensuing fire," said Capt. Larry Davis, Amarillo Fire Department."
Since then work has been at a standstill, for now.
Opus Design-Build, L.L.C, the national company overseeing construction released a statement saying in part:
"Work is still suspended at the site due to the investigation. But it could resume as early as tomorrow."
The Amarillo Fire Marshall's Office was originally conducting the investigation but a new organization has taken over: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"It's no longer in the Fire Department's hands and I believe that the Fire Marshalls' Office is really pretty much wrapped up their investigation on it as well. At this point, OSHA will come in and investigate and if there's any safety recommendations that need to be made I suppose they will make those," said Captain Davis.
According to OSHA's media spokesperson, the administration currently can't say anything about the incident.
That's because they just opened up the investigation and everything is still preliminary phase.
There's also no telling how long the investigation could take, but by law, OSHA has up to six months to complete the case.
Captain Davis says it's not uncommon for us to have this type of industrial accident but to have one of this severity, it's pretty uncommon and very unfortunate. As of now the names of the two construction workers have not been released.
Captain Davis tells us to his knowledge he doesn't remember the last time we had an incident this severe.