Tuesday, Dec. 29, 1998 | 11:11 a.m.
A 24-year-old construction worker was killed Monday night when a nearly three-story piece of facade at the Venetian hotel-casino site fell on him from near the top of the 35-story structure.
Tourists watched as the iron and concrete piece, which weighed between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds and was about 10-by-20 feet, fell to the ground around 8:45 p.m.
"I saw it fall from the top and I thought that it was planned, but then I saw security guards running back into the construction site," Kansas native Rory Hamilton said. "It looked like a huge piece of paper coming down, and as it got close to the bottom, it spun and pancaked."
Christopher S. Green was killed on impact, Clark County Fire Department spokesman Steve La-Sky said.
"They were placing that piece of the facade near the top of the structure when it somehow detached from the crane and fell," La-Sky said.
The crane was moving the piece into place at the top of the western tower of the hotel. Green and another worker, who managed to get clear in time, found themselves under the falling piece of the hotel. It is unclear if a cable snapped or some other malfunction caused the piece to fall, La-Sky said.
A security guard at a nearby casino said that he felt the impact when the piece of the hotel hit the ground.
"His (Green's) father is here, and it's just a real tragedy, especially a few days after Christmas," La-Sky said.
Green worked for Recreational Development Corp., a subcontractor at the Venetian site.
Marc Furman, administrative assistant for the Southern California-Nevada Regional Council of Carpenters, said Green was an apprentice with the union and had started in June.
Furman said the union has not had great concerns about safety at the Venetian site. He said injuries at high-rise projects more often occur due to people falling.
"A load falling is really an unusual occurrence," Furman said.
The Carpenters Union has more than 500 people working at the site, Furman said.
Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were on site today investigating the accident. A cause may not be determined for another day or so, an official said.
"We are in the process of conducting our own investigation into the occurrences, which led to the accident," project general contractor Lehrer McGovern Bovis said in a statement.
"We will be prepared to comment more specifically at the conclusion of the investigations. ... We offer our prayers and sympathy to the family of the deceased worker."
Overall, there are about 3,000 people working on the Venetian site, company officials said. Construction on the $1.4 billion hotel-casino began in April 1997. The property is scheduled to open in April 1999.
Accidents at Southern Nevada casino construction sites have taken the lives of at least five other people, including two constructions workers, since 1992.
In December 1994, a 320-foot crane fell and killed three men -- two of whom were sitting in their cars and another who was walking in a parking lot -- at the construction site of a 28-story addition to the Riverside hotel-casino in Laughlin.
The construction company on that project was the Phoenix-based Perini Building Co., which has built many projects in the Las Vegas area, including the Luxor hotel-casino, where two workers perished two years earlier while building that $290 million Strip resort.
In September 1992, 40-year-old construction foreman John Nobels of Arizona was killed when he fell from scaffolding at the construction site of the 30-story pyramid-shaped project.
Three months later, 42-year-old construction worker Steven Yandell of Arizona was killed when a boom struck him at the Luxor.
Sun reporters Jace Radke, Brian Seals, Ed Koch and John Wilen contributed to this report.