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Construction worker killed at airport's rental car facility site

A 29-year-old construction worker was killed early Tuesday in an accident at the site of the future consolidated car rental facility at San Diego International Airport, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority confirmed.

The man’s name and position on the construction team were not released as of Friday morning, but a statement from Sundt Construction Inc., the contractor teamed up with Austin Commercial on the airport project, confirmed that the worker was one of its own employee-owners.

"Austin/Sundt, the joint venture leading this project, is dedicated to the safety and security of our people, partners and community," the statement read. "At this time we do not have the necessary details about the accident to report. We are following the proper procedures to investigate the accident."

Work on the project was suspended while the investigation is being conducted. Sundt said grief counselors were made available at the job site to support those affected.

"All of us here at the Airport Authority are deeply saddened by this event and our thoughts are with those affected by [Tuesday’s] tragic accident," an Airport Authority statement read. "Airport Authority staff is working closely with the appropriate authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident."

Peter Melton, California Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesman, said the man was killed after a rebar column on which he was working somehow toppled.

"They were preparing to pour concrete," Melton said, noting that the rebar column was about 2 feet in diameter.

The man, who was reportedly wearing fall-protection equipment, was about 18 to 20 feet up on the column when the accident occurred.

"He must have been near the top," Melton said. "Apparently, the column fell over and we don't know why."

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office released some information Tuesday evening, adding that the man reportedly yelled out to his co-workers that the rebar was falling.

According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's report, the rebar column fell on top of the accident victim. Co-workers detached the man's safety harness from the rebar and dialed 911.

San Diego Fire Department personnel responded to the scene and pronounced him dead. As of Friday morning, an examination of the man had not been performed.

An investigation into the accident's cause is ongoing between a Cal-OSHA inspector and the joint-venture company. Austin-Sundt is building a consolidated center at the airport, which will house 11 rental car companies.

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