A construction worker died on August 16 while working on the Gilcrease Expressway expansion in Tulsa, Okla.

Tulsa Police and Fire Departments responded at about 9:30 a.m. to find Noe Mendoza, 45, an employee of Plains Bridge Contracting of Yukon, Okla., struck and killed by a piece of heavy equipment.

Bill French, spokesman for Tulsa Fire, says Mendoza was hit by a 120,000-lb road spreader, with a big diesel-driven scraper to pick up pavement, and was “graphically” dead at the scene. Tulsa Police handled the scene, as they would for a fatal traffic accident, he said.

Tulsa Police Dept. public information officer Leland Ashley said the machine that killed Medoza was a 2002 model Caterpillar 621G wheel tractor-scraper. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the cause, which remains unknown. Plains Bridge president and owner, Darren Bond, says the operator, an employee of United General Contractors, Kingsfisher, Okla., reported that the machine lost power and control when the scraper’s drive pan “wouldn’t go down” and it rolled about 1,100 feet. Bond adds that construction team members have met with representatives from Caterpillar, which has two more machines in the same series.

Plains Bridge and joint venture partners Treas Construction of Coalgate, Okla., and United General Contractors of Kingfisher, Okla., received in December 2009, a $13-million contract to grade, drain, surface, build bridges and add signals to a 0.7-mi stretch of the new expressway, according to the Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation.

The city of Tulsa is expanding the highway in hopes of encouraging development northwest of town, says spokesperson Laura Christiansen. The Gilcrease Expressway will connect a state highway, near the Tulsa International Airport to Interstate 44, a major route to Oklahoma City. ODOT is overseeing the work, because the job received federal funds.