EAST ST. LOUIS, Illinois (KMOV.com) – Authorities say the body of a missing worker has been found in the Mississippi River near where he fell in with a piece of equipment on Wednesday.
According to a St. Clair County coroner, the preliminary cause of death of Andy Gammon, 35, is drowning. An autopsy will begin tomorrow and toxicology tests, required by law, will take several weeks to be completed.
According to Missouri Department of Transportation officials, the body of the worker was found near the new bridge project around 5:45 p.m.
According to reports, the Massman, Taylor, Alberici worker was harnessed into a four-wheeled piece of equipment called a “man-life” when it toppled into the river on the Illinois side.
Gammon, of Park Hills, is a husband and father of two children.
The barge was about 300 feet north of the bridge and 100 feet out into the river, according to officials.
According to reports, crews recovered a life jacket early Monday afternoon, but the body was nowhere to be seen.
On Wednesday, search crews with the Coast Guard, the St. Louis Fire Department and the Swansea Fire Department patrolled the waters for several hours searching for the worker. Authorities suspended the search around 3:45 p.m. due to the strong river currents.
Around 11 a.m. on Thursday, crews started installing 12 metal plates - 70 feet long by four feet wide – from the Alton Lock and Dam area. Those plates were used to form a 48-foot wide barrier officials said would break the current enough to allow the divers to work.
Gammon was taking part in construction of a four-lane, cable-stayed bridge that would link Missouri to southwestern Illinois as the first new span in the congestion-plagued area in some four decades. The more than $600 million project is scheduled to be completed by early 2014.
The new bridge would divert Interstate 70 traffic from an existing bridge that’s one of two in the nation that accommodate three freeways. The plan also allows for the bridge, which is designed to be two lanes in each direction, to be expanded by a lane each way.
Authorities said this is the first major accident on the bridge project, which started about two years ago.
The Occupational and Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stopped all work at the bridge in order to investigate. It is expected that work may resume on Monday.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.