May 17, 2012

Camp collapse killed 'family man'

Widow says he was dedicated father; Maine OSHA investigating accident

By Ben McCanna bmccanna@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

ALBION -- The widow of a man killed in a construction accident Tuesday said her husband was a dedicated father of five and a hard worker.

Robert Rodriques

Contributed photo

click image to enlarge

FATALITY: A man was killed while jacking up this house in Albion.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

According to online OSHA archives, Stover was cited for 10 serious violations during a job site inspection in July 2010. Those violations include a lack of a safety guard on a table saw, lack of ground fault
circuit interrupters, a lack of fall protection and more. Stover was fined $6,750, which he said he hasn’t paid. He said the OSHA provides inadequate training and information.

Bobbie Rodriques, 54, of Augusta, was killed Tuesday when the building he was working under collapsed on him. The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Maine Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"He spent all his time with his kids," Cynthia Rodriques, 45, said of her husband. "He didn't drink, he didn't go out. He was a family man. He was always there for his kids, always there for his family."

On Tuesday, Bobbie Rodriques and two other men were repairing a post foundation of a summer camp on the shore of Lovejoy Pond.

Rodriques was kneeling under the building with Linwood Stover -- the 55-year-old owner of Kennebec Home Improvements, who was contracted to do the work. A third man, Michael Sterling, was working outside the structure.

Stover said one side of the camp was propped up on jacks while he and Rodriques created a solid base for the supports.

When the camp began to tip over, Stover dove onto his belly, but said Rodriques didn't.

"He stayed on his knees and it came down on him and pinned him. There was nothing he could do. It pinned him hard," Stover said.

Sterling called for help and the fire department arrived with extrication equipment. For the next hour, they were both pinned. Support beams had landed on Stover's back, and Rodriques' body landed on his arm.

"Those beams were across my back and I could barely breathe," he said. "I thought I was going to expire under there, too. I thought I was done."

Stover said he had met Rodriques about five years ago. Stover was working on a demolition project and every day Rodriques would ask him if there was any work available. Eventually, Stover hired him.

"He's a good worker," Stover said.

Later, Rodriques took a job at Tire Warehouse in Augusta, but continued to do odd jobs for Stover.

Stover, who was treated for a back injury and released Tuesday from MaineGeneral Medical Center's Thayer Campus in Waterville, said he misses his friend and has paid for his upcoming funeral.

"My bones are the least of the worries," he said.

He wonders what could have been done to prevent the accident.

"It's very sad. I don't like it on my watch. It's hard," he said. "In hindsight, it wouldn't have hurt to have some cribbing in there to keep it from going."

Cribbing is stacked 2 inch by 6 inch lumber. Several stacks under the house could have caught the structure during the fall, he said.

Stover started Kennebec Home Improvements more than 10 years ago. He estimates he has done foundation work on more than 15 buildings.

Stover is concerned Tuesday's accident might result in big fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"That's my biggest fear -- how bad they'll point the finger," he said of the agency. "It's an accident. I know there are a couple of things I could have done differently thinking back on it."

Karen Billups, assistant area director for Occupational Safety and Health Administration of Maine, said a report on Tuesday's accident won't be complete for several weeks,. She wouldn't comment on the investigation.

According to online OSHA archives, Stover was cited for 10 serious violations during a job site inspection in July 2010. Those violations include a lack of a safety guard on a table saw, lack of ground fault circuit interrupters, a lack of fall protection and more.

(Continued on page 2)

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