More details have emerged as to how a 43-year-old contractor worker fell 25 ft to his death on March 8 at the City of Los Angeles Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa del Rey, Calif., but the incident remains under state investigation.

José Perez, an employee of Murray Co., a Rancho Dominguez, Calif., mechanical contractor working at the plant, “was in the process of securing a lid on top of a below-grade concrete tank and during that process [he] fell,” says Jim DeFlavio, company president and CEO.

“We are devastated by the loss of our employee, who has been an important part of our Murray company family since 2002,” says DeFlavio.

California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CalOSHA} has started an official probe of the accident and will not release any details until it is completed, estimated to take six months, says spokesman Luke Brown.

Perez was a member of Laborers’ union Local 300,  which represents construction laborers, maintenance workers and plant workers throughout Los Angeles County.

Perez fell to the bottom of a 15 x 15 ft pit-like confined space that was mostly dry, with a small amount of moisture at the bottom, said Los Angeles Fire Dept. spokesperson Brian Humphrey. The incident was reported at 1:18 pm.

Despite CPR from bystanders and aid from 47 department responders, including those specially trained to perform confined space rescues, he was pronounced dead at the scene. The LA County coroner has ruled the incident as an accident. 

It is not yet known Perez was wearing appropriate safety equipment at the time of the fall.

Murray Co. has worked for the city on various projects. In 2010, the company completed a mechanical piping project at the Hyperion plant, which consisted of installing and operating a digester gas-natural gas-fueled combined cycle cogeneration system.

DeFlavio says Murray cannot release any more information on the accident, but says his company is investigating it and “continues to work with the city of Los Angeles and other public agencies and cooperate with the ongoing investigation.”

The Murray Co. ranks at No. 79 on ENR's Top 600 Specialty Contractors list, reporting about $370 million in 2019 revenue.

In 2016, a Los Angeles jury awarded $27 million in compensation to the family of Edgar Gonzalez, an employee of Atlas Construction Supply, who died in a 2011 fall at the Hyperion plant after a concrete wall formwork collapsed during construction.