MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A deadly accident at U.S. Bank Stadium on Wednesday took the life of one construction worker, and injured another. They were both doing roofing work on the northside of the stadium when 35-year-old Jeramie Gruber fell and dropped 50 feet into the snow gutter.
In many ways, construction at the new stadium has been a model of efficiency and safety. But that came to a tragic halt for the 1,200 employees around 7:45 a.m.
“A man lost his life on the project today,” John Wood, Mortenson Senior Vice President, said. “And that simply should never happen.”
For the first time in two years, work at the site stopped so officials could investigate, and so crews could grieve.
"We can't say enough to express how saddened everybody is who is working on this project and that our condolences go out to the families and friends of the loved ones of these two men,” Mortenson said.
Family members say Gruber, from Northfield, Minn., was an outdoorsman and husband. Both men worked for Berwald roofing, a family-owned sub-contractor based in North St. Paul.
The company has received nine Osha citations for serious violations since 2010 -- most for fall safety violations including failure to use a safety harness or guardrails.
“We will not discuss speculation,” Mortenson said. “When we know facts, we will let you know.”
Lead contractor Mortenson Construction's vice president would not say whether the Berwald roofing employees wore safety harnesses or what may have gone wrong. Union leaders also said they were gathering information.
“Just our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” Mark Conroy, Roofers Local Union 96, said. “And we will wait until we get more information.”
The cost of this stadium has been the source of so much debate, but it was only dollars and cents. Now, the cost is written on the faces of every man and woman who has labored here.
“This was a very tragic day,” Mortenson said.
Mortensen Construction built Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium with no deaths. The plan is for work to begin again on Thursday, but with grief counselors on site.