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Man Dead After Falling from Railroad Bridge

9:31 AM, Feb 15, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Police have identified a man who died after falling from the railroad bridge he was working on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a police report, Peter Michnick, 42, was working on the railroad bridge near the Acosta Bridge when he fell, hit his head on some metal and rolled into the St. Johns River.

Michnick's coworkers jumped in to try and rescue the man but weren't able to get to him, Eason said. 

Michnick was underwater for about five minutes before Eason said a passing boater was able to rescue him from the water.

An ambulance rushed him to Shands Jacksonville for treatment, but doctors there weren't able to revive him, Eason explained.

A JSO marine unit searched the water for evidence, and Eason stated that homicide detectives were trying to determine the exact longitude and latitude where the boater rescued Michnick.

First Coast News tried to contact the company Michnick worked for, but so far no one with the company has called us back.

Hussein Cumber, spokesperson for Florida East Coast Railway, said the victim works for Osmose Railroad Services, a company Wisconsin that was contracted by FEC Railway.

Osmose's president, Harry Holekamp, has not returned our call about the situation.

First Coast News did a little digging into Holekamp's company and found that the company was cited by OSHA just last year for an instance similar to this one.

According to the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA), when working above water employers must provide fall protection if the distance from the walking/working surface to the water's surface is six feet or more.
    
Those workers are also supposed to wear a life jacket.
    
A quick check of OSHA's records revealed that Osmose was cited for violating both of those requirements just last year.  In May 2011, the company was cited for failing to comply with OSHA's standards which says the company has a "duty to have fall protection" and to take precautions for workers who were "working over or near water."

We tried to call Osmose's president for comment but he has yet to call us back.

According to Chris Shakib, a local attorney with Terrell Hogan Law Firm who deals with major accidents and deaths there was actually a question about this OSHA standard back in 1999.  OSHA made it clear then that employers would have to meet these requirements.

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