Detroit police: New Red Wings arena worker's death a likely suicide

DETROIT - The death of an electrician in a fall this morning at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit is believed to be a suicide, according to the Detroit Police Department.

"We're leaning towards a suicide based off witness statements and our investigation," said Detroit Police Media Relations Director Michael Woody, who said the investigation will be concluded once the department receives the medical examiner's report. The report could take several weeks, he said.

The police department's assertion follows a statement from the arena's general contractor, which said it did not believe the death to be "a construction-related accident."

"After a review of the facts surrounding today's tragic event, we have reached a preliminary conclusion that this event was not the result of a construction-related accident," Barton Malow  CEO Ryan Maibach said in a statement. "Additional information may become available as the Detroit Police Department concludes their investigation."

Officials earlier said the worker, whose name has not been released, fell 75 feet, or seven stories.

"Normally, you don't survive a fall like that," Detroit Deputy Fire Commission Dave Forell told the Free Press.

"Our medics said there were not a lot of outward signs of a fall," he continued, noting that sometimes when one hits the ground after a fall of that magnitude they can have everything broken — which this man did not.

Forell said that at 8:03 a.m., the Detroit Fire Department was dispatched to the Little Caesars Arena construction site, a little north of downtown, after hearing about the fall.

"He'd fallen approximately 75 feet and he was in cardiac arrest," Forell said, noting that the man had fallen into the stadium's bleachers and coworkers had begun CPR on him before emergency crews arrived and continued the first aid as they transported him to Detroit Receiving Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Forell said the man was not wearing fall protection gear when emergency crews arrived, but that it could have been removed by coworkers who were administering CPR.

"We don't know what happened," Forell said. "Was he working with anyone else? We don't know. But that kind of fall is not usually survivable."

While Forell originally said the man was 46 years old, he noted that the Detroit Police Department, which is conducting an investigation into the fall, has said the man was 37.

Maibach in his statement said more than 1,200 tradesmen and women work at the arena construction site. He said Barton Malow-Hunt/White will be making grief counselors and chaplains available to all employees upon their return to work Thursday morning.

Illitch Holdings  Vice President Doug Kuiper also released a statement this afternoon, saying that company's thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and coworkers affected by the tragedy.

"We lost a member of our crew today, and it is an extremely sad and difficult time for our entire organization and for the many dedicated men and women building this project," Kuiper said, noting that safety and security for all on its job sites remain its top priority.

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© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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