911 calls released in construction accident that killed 2 after 80-foot fall

Construction worker's fiancee says he wasn't given harness

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The 911 calls made after an August construction accident in which two men fell to their deaths at an Orange County hotel were released this week; two months after the incident.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened its investigation on Aug. 29 after two men fell to their deaths just after 4 a.m. while working on the future site of the J.W. Marriott hotel near the Bonnet Creek Resort, in Orange County. 

Lorenzo Zavala, 34, and Jerry Bell, 46, fell about 80 feet from the platform they were working on, according to the incident report.

Moments after the collapse, 911 calls flooded the Orange County dispatch center.

In one 911 call, a worker was asked by an operator how far the workers fell.

"First, second, third floor is 16 stories, and then you got 10 floors after that, or 10 feet after that. So, 48, 58, 68, 78 -- About 80 feet," the caller said. 

Another worker was still on the seventh floor when he called dispatch.

Dispatch asked, "How many people are hurt?"

To which the caller replied, "I have no idea. We are all trying to get off the deck right now."

Bell's fiancee, Kathy Richardson, said he was close to finishing the job when he fell. 

"He had about 100 yards left and he was done," Richardson said.

Bell and about 25 other workers were seven stories high when the floor below them gave way. 

"The scaffolding wasn't heavy or strong enough for the concrete, and when he started to pour the concrete, the scaffolding collapsed," Richardson said.

Bell's fiance said falling was one of his worst fears. 

"About two weeks before he passed, he told me and two other friends that he was dreaming; having dreams of falling and waking up before he hit the ground," she said.

OSHA will not comment on whether construction employees were wearing a safety harness and adds it cannot comment until the investigation is complete. 

Richardson said Bell was not given a harness to wear. She has hired an attorney to sue the concrete company Bell worked for as a result of his death and the lack of a harness being provided, she said.

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