Mississippi River bridge project rescue efforts.
East St. Louis, IL (KSDK) - Rescuers suspended their search for a carpenter who fell to his death in the Mississippi River Wednesday while working on the new bridge. Construction is also on hold, indefinitely.
Police, coast guard and rescue crews searched the Mississippi north of downtown for more than five hours Wednesday -- hoping to find 35-year-old Andy Gammon who they say fell in around 10:30 a.m.
MODOT, the lead agency on the new Mississippi River Bridge, says Gammon was working from a barge just north of the tower on the Illinois side of the river.
MODOT says he was in a man lift, similar to a cherry picker, and was likely controlling the machine from the bucket he was riding in. The lift tipped over and went into the river with Gammon still in the bucket.
Andrew Gates with MoDOT said the man life it used to lift a person to the crane, so a person can connect or disconnect construction material. It is unknown if Gammon was wearing a harness or tethered to the machine, but regulations call for it, so it's likely, but not known for sure.
When divers went in to search for Gammon, they found 30 feet of fast moving murky water.
"There's a strong, very strong current and you can't see anything in front of you," said Greg Horn, MODOT's director of the bridge project of the conditions that made searching unsafe for divers.
Because of the current the search turned recovery was suspended before dark.
Rescue crews will try again Thursday when construction workers plan to divert the rivers current with large sheets of metal.
Construction on the new bridge is suspended at least until the worker's body is recovered.
MODOT says investigations will follow, as the man's family waits for answers.
"He's got a couple children they've got to go talk to and explain to the children what has happened," said Chief Mike Floore with the East St. Louis Police Department of Gannon's family who watched from the banks of the river as rescuers searched.
MTA is a conglomerate of three companies building the bridge made up of Massman, Traylor Bros., and Alberici.
MODOT says the company takes a hard line when it comes to safety and according to MODOT this is the company's first major incident.