Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2019

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Construction Deaths

Harold "Rusty" Billingsley's hard hat and work boots are reminders of the job that led to the ironworker's death Oct. 5 while working on CityCenter.

Photo by Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Harold "Rusty" Billingsley's hard hat and work boots are reminders of the job that led to the ironworker's death Oct. 5 while working on CityCenter.

Construction workers had been dying at a rate of one every six weeks in the $32 billion building boom on the Las Vegas Strip. But deaths stopped last year after the Las Vegas Sun exposed serious safety flaws on the sites and detailed how lax oversight by safety regulators failed to prevent accidents.

The stories forced state and federal investigations and became the subject of hearings in the U.S. House and Senate. Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and others sent a letter to President Bush demanding safety reforms in the Labor Department.

As the Sun pursued the story, the newspaper reported on cozy relationships existing between safety regulators and builders. Angered by the revelations and continuing death toll, workers walked off the job at MGM Mirage's CityCenter, shutting down the largest private commercial development in U.S. history until the contractors agreed to safety improvements.

Twelve workers had died in 18 months. But after the improvements, the deaths stopped. No workers have died since June 2008.

This page features the Sun's series, which includes stories, a video, an interactive and documents from OSHA concerning the deaths, plus follow-up stories.

Archive highlights

Pace is the new peril

Sun, Mar 30, 2008

In the shadows of the cranes, steel and concrete upon which Las Vegas has pinned its addiction to growth, a body count has emerged. Nine construction workers have died in ...

OSHA goes easy

Mon, Mar 31, 2008

Hundreds of construction workers signed a 10-foot long memorial poster for the family of Harold Billingsley after the 46-year-old ironworker plunged to his death at CityCenter last year. Four months ...

'Not in this city'

Tue, Apr 1, 2008

The disturbing rash of worker deaths at casinos, condos and hotels being built along the Strip raises safety issues that must be addressed, safety engineers and others say. But making ...


Sun, Apr 13, 2008

The 70-odd ironworkers working at the Fontainebleau construction site were fed up with dangerous conditions. In July, they stopped working in the unsafe areas and persuaded their union, Ironworkers Local ...

All stories

Q+A: Filmmaker discusses worker safety, deaths on Strip construction sites

Sat, Oct 22, 2016

Inspired by the Las Vegas Sun's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2009 investigation into the deaths of construction workers on the Las Vegas Strip, filmmaker Jordan Ehrlich has created a documentary, "The Cost ...

Man who died in possible construction-related incident identified

Sun, Aug 2, 2015

A man who died Saturday during a possible construction-related incident has been identified by the Clark County Coroner's office as Porfirio Gonzalez-Huerta of Las Vegas.

Construction worker who fell to death identified

Wed, Aug 21, 2013

The Clark County Coroner's Office has identified the construction worker who fell to his death Tuesday in Summerlin as 26-year-old Mark Lovett.

Metro investigating death at Summerlin construction site

Tue, Aug 20, 2013

Metro Police are investigating a death at the Summerlin shopping center construction site this morning.

Mother continues legal crusade for son killed in 2007 construction death

Thu, Jun 13, 2013

More than six years after her son’s death at a hotel construction site, Debi Koehler still is hoping for justice. Her hope stems from a ruling Friday in a lawsuit ...

Coroner ID’s man killed in construction accident

Thu, Apr 25, 2013

A man killed Wednesday when he was hit by a drainage pipe at a construction site has been identified as 60-year-old William Paul Little, according to the Clark County Coroner’s ...

OSHA investigating construction-related fatality in Las Vegas

Tue, Apr 23, 2013

A man was killed in a construction-related accident Tuesday morning when a pipe rolled over him, Metro Police Officer Lawrence Hadfield said.

State officials investigating cause of fatal tunnel breach

Tue, Jun 12, 2012

As the investigation begins into a Monday accident at a Lake Mead construction site that left one man dead, officials released new details Tuesday about what happened in the tunnel ...

Execs, workers disagree on level of construction safety

Tue, Jul 6, 2010

Twenty-five months after CityCenter construction workers walked off the job to protest workplace fatalities and safety conditions there, researchers have confirmed what the Sun reported at the time.

New OSHA office means more enforcement

Fri, Jun 18, 2010

Nevada employers required to keep workplaces safe have a new watchdog: the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Mother calls for criminal probes in workplace safety cases

Wed, May 19, 2010

A mother whose son died in an on-the-job accident at a Las Vegas hotel is calling for the district attorney or the state attorney general to be called into safety ...

Worker safety training plan sent back for a rewrite

Fri, Nov 27, 2009

Lawmakers told the state Division of Industrial Relations to take another swipe at developing a regulation to require safety training for Nevada construction workers.

State OSHA lambasted by House committee

Fri, Oct 30, 2009

Nevada OSHA must stop letting companies off easy for safety violations and eliminate political influence on its decisions or face greater federal oversight, elected officials said at a House hearing ...

OSHA plans new Vegas office to monitor workplace safety

Thu, Oct 29, 2009

WASHINGTON -- Federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration officials plan to return to Nevada and ultimately set up an office in the state to monitor Nevada OSHA's efforts to improve ...

What’s at stake in House hearing on OSHA

Tue, Oct 27, 2009

When the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee holds a hearing Thursday to examine the failings of Nevada’s workplace-safety program, representatives will try to answer two overarching questions:


The case of Willie Pelayo

General laborer foreman Willie Pelayo rode a malfunctioning buggy into an elevator shaft and was killed at Trump Dec. 5, 2006. OSHA initiated a two-month long investigation and issued a report that involved extensive documentation, including photographs and a complete evaluation of the buggy.

Here are some of the documents involved in the case:


Federal Hearing Focuses on Vegas
Federal Hearing Focuses on Vegas
The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee took aim at OSHA on Tuesday, citing the ...
Hopes of Change
Hopes of Change
Las Vegas retired ironworker George Cole discussed on Monday what he planned to say at ...
CityCenter Workers Strike
CityCenter Workers Strike
Construction workers shut down MGM Mirage's CityCenter at midnight Monday, walking off the job to ...
Cost of Expansion
Cost of Expansion
In the shadows of the cranes, steel, and concrete upon which Las Vegas has pinned ...


Construction Deaths
In the shadows of the cranes, steel, and concrete upon which Las Vegas has pinned ...