Coroner: Death of man on MS River Bridge in Natchez possibly heat related Thursday, August 24th 2017
Posted by Morgan Howard, Digital Content Producer
NATCHEZ, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
A body was found on top of the Mississippi River Bridge in Natchez Wednesday evening.
Around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, the body of Alexander Flores was found on the bridge. His death is being ruled accidental pending toxicology results.
Flores worked as a construction worker for Blasttech Inc. out of Florida.
The coroner said that when someone dies of a heat related injury they fail to listen to their body warning signs until it's too late to get help. Flores' coworkers reported that he felt nausea for two days but still reported to work on time.
We will update this story as soon as we know more.
Authorities are looking into whether heat exhaustion was to blame for the death of a worker on a bridge painting and rehabilitation project on the Mississippi-Louisiana border Wednesday (Aug. 23).
Charlie Brenner, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Mississippi River Bridge between Natchez, Mississippi, and Vidalia, Louisiana, carries Highway 84 across the Mississippi.
According to reports, the worker, identified as Alexander Flores, was not accounted for when his shift ended Wednesday on the Mississippi River Bridge, which links Natchez, Mississippi, with Vidalia, Louisiana. A search effort carried out by a local rescue team located his body around 9 p.m. the same night, on a beam on top of the bridge. Flores reportedly hadn’t been seen since 4:30 p.m., and he was reported missing around 8 p.m.
Heat Exhaustion Eyed
Adams County, Mississippi, coroner James Lee told the Natchez Democrat that he suspects Flores died from heat exhaustion, and Lee ruled the death accidental, but an autopsy is pending. According to local weather records, temperatures reached above 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the area Wednesday afternoon.
MSNewsNow reported Thursday (Aug. 24) that Flores’ coworkers said he had felt nauseous for two days before the incident, but reported for work.
A spokesperson for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration told PaintSquare Daily News the agency is investigating the incident.
Painting, Structural Repairs
The work being done on the bridge in Natchez is part of a $26.8 million contract issued by the Mississippi Department of Transportation for the replacement of six combinations of pins and links, as well as sandblasting and painting. Blastech Enterprises Inc., of Baltimore, Maryland, is the contractor on the job.
A Blastech representative reached by phone Friday (Aug. 25) declined comment.
MSDOT officials did not specify what work Flores was performing at the time of his death, but MDOT spokesperson Jarrod Ravencraft told PaintSquare Daily News, "All State of Mississippi contracts awarded on behalf of MDOT require contractors to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines from the U.S. Department of Labor. MDOT asks that everyone please keep the family and friends in their thoughts and prayers through this difficult time of healing after this tragic loss. Contractors and MDOT’s frontline workers put their lives at risk every day to keep Mississippi’s transportation system and the traveling public safe."
The work involves the complete shutdown of the westbound bridge, the older of two cantilever spans that comprise the bridge, which carries Highway 84 across the Mississippi River. The bridge is 77 years old, according to MDOT. The shutdown began in July and is set to last up to a year.