Injured 13th Street bridge worker will return to work Monday

A construction worker injured Wednesday while repainting the 13th Street bridge is scheduled to return to work Monday after he was rescued Wednesday by the Columbus Fire & EMS High-Angle Rescue Team, an S&D Industrial Painting representative said Friday.

About 12 rescuers worked for hours to remove the man from 50-feet high scaffolding Wednesday afternoon. Public safety officials initially reported that the man was immobilized after a piece of metal hit him in the lower back. However, an S&D Industrial Painting representative said the metal — a piece of outrigging used to support cables — hit the man in the leg. The worker was connected to an 80,000 pound cable.

"I talked to him that night when he got released from the hospital," Irene Tirikos said. "He's fine and is scheduled to return to work."

Since the accident, Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials have investigated and found no work violations, Tirikos said. The bridge repainting project, which is funded by the Department of Transportation, started in April and is scheduled to finish in August.

During Wednesday's rescue, members of the High-Angle Rescue Team worked for hours to construct a complicated rope system which supported more than 700 pounds, including rescue equipment, two members of the High Angle Rescue Team and the victim. It was stabilized using a ladder truck.

"It's a rare bird. Rope rescues are very technical," Fire Marshall Ricky Shores told the Ledger-Enquirer. "They require a lot of hand skills. That team does a very good job of training for those kinds of operations."

The team lowered two rescue workers to where the man was trapped and transferred him to a Stokes Basket. He was then lowered to some rocks near the edge of the Chattahoochee River, where officials used a cherry picker to move him to the RiverWalk. He was transported to the Midtown Medical Center.