Philadelphia officials and engineering firm Langan have confirmed that a company project manager and geotechnical engineer died July 6 in a nighttime drill rig accident while he was on site to inspect foundation work for a pedestrian bridge project.

In a July 9 statement, Langan CEO David T. Gockel identified the dead man as Kirankumar Mistry, a 56-year-old senior engineer and 23-year firm veteran.

Mistry, of Marlton, NJ, was crushed and the drilling rig operator injured when the rig owned by Cook Drilling Corp., Trevose, Pa., fell over as it was unloading material from a tractor-trailer at 8:30 PM, city fire department officials said. Efforts to extricate Mistry and the operator took 15 minutes.

The drill rig operator was unloading pipe for the casing when the catastrophe occurred.

He later died at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

See link here to Kirankumar Mistry obituary and tribute wall.

Cook, which is described on its website as one of the East Coast’s largest foundation contractors, declined to release the name of its drill operator who was treated at that hospital and released.

The foundation work was being performed for the bridge that will connect a new University of Pennsylvania Health System hospital patient pavilion with a SEPTA regional transit agency station in the University City section.

William Bell, Cook operations coordinator, described the operator as an experienced member of plumbers' and pipefitters' union Local 322 in Winslow, NJ. It was not stated how long he had worked for the firm.

The cause of the accident also remains unclear. “There are too many unknowns. I don’t want to speculate,” Bell said. Cook was unloading pipe for the casing using the drilling rig “when the catastrophic incident happened,” he said.

US Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators have been at the site “looking at the drilling rig,” with plans to determine if it was a mechanical failure or operator failure, according to Bell. “We just don’t know,” he said.

"OSHA will conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and any related hazards to employees at the work site," says a spokeswomen for the agency in Philadelphia. Its accident probes can take up to six months to complete.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened over the tragic loss of Kiran Mistry,” said Gockel, who he said "was dearly loved and respected by his colleagues, clients and fellow workers." Based in Philadelphia, Mistry "mentored many of our younger staff, who continue to benefit from his shared wisdom,” said the CEO.

Balfour Beatty and L.F. Driscoll are the joint venture construction managers for the pedestrian bridge project and the estimated $1.5-billion patient pavilion.

Installing Foundation Caissons

Bell said Cook has been at the site since June 23 to install foundation caissons. The company was excavating cylindrical shafts into the ground to be filled with concrete when the accident happened.

Bell said this was the first fatal accident in Cook's 55-year history, and he did not know whether the operator was aware of Mistry’s presence on the site. “I don’t know how he got trapped,” Bell said, adding that the work was being done at night to avoid pedestrians and vehicles.

"We are deeply saddened by this incident ... and fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation," Balfour Beatty and L.F. Driscoll said in a joint statement: 

“We hope that our industry conducts a thorough investigation and further safety measures are adopted to better protect the millions of construction workers who go to work each day and should return home safely,” said Gockel.