District, contractor had worked together in past

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | 7:41 p.m. CST; updated 9:22 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 11, 2008

COLUMBIA — A day after a worker was killed in a construction accident, Columbia Public Schools and Professional Contractors & Engineers officials said they have worked well together in the past, building Lange Middle School and Paxton Keeley Elementary School with no serious problems or accidents.

On Monday, a 53-year-old bricklayer was killed after scaffolding collapsed at the site of the most recent project the contractor has taken on for the school district.

Alan Hildebrand of Ashland, Ohio, was finishing the top of a gymnasium wall at the new school site at 5801 Arbor Pointe Parkway when the scaffolding collapsed. He fell about two stories to his death, said Jack Jensen, assistant superintendent of elementary education.

He was pronounced dead at University Hospital.

Two other men – Ryan Barnes of Columbia and Jeffrey Willman of Boonville, both 33  – were hospitalized after the accident, according to a Columbia Police Department news release. As of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, both were listed in fair condition at University Hospital, according to a hospital spokesman.

Mr. Hildebrand came from a family of bricklayers.  His grandfather, father, and both of his uncles worked in the industry.  "They really took pride in their work, they were very professional," said his cousin, Terry Hildebrand.

In high school, Mr. Hildebrand played sports and continued with golf throughout his life.

Mr. Hildebrand is survived by two daughters, Kasey and Allison; two sisters, Kelly Hildebrand and Kim Hiller; and his cousin, Terry Hildebrand.

The employees, who were working on the scaffolding, were not hired by Professional Contractors & Engineers, said the company’s president, Craig Simon. The firm had subcontracted with Dean Hathman Masonry, he said. Simon said his company has worked with Hathman for more than 20 years and has never had any problems.

No one from the subcontractor could be reached for comment Tuesday.

It is not known what caused Monday’s accident. Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are due to arrive Wednesday to figure out just that, Jensen said.

Simon said work at the accident site was suspended, but work at other areas of the construction site would continue.

In addition to working with the school district, Professional Contractors & Engineers has contracted with mid-Missouri banks, churches and retail stores. The company has also worked with MU, the city of Columbia and the state.

Twenty-nine of Missouri’s 155 work-related deaths in 2007 happened within the construction industry, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor.  Three of those deaths were the result of a fall from scaffolding.

Nationwide, there were 5,488 work-related deaths in 2007, and 88 of them were the result of falls from scaffolding, a report from the federal Bureau of Statistics shows.

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