LOS ANGELES – Authorities on Friday identified a worker who fell to his death from the Wilshire Grand Tower under construction in downtown Los Angeles, and said the man may have committed suicide.
Joseph Sabbatino, 36, of Palmdale died at the scene of the fall, which occurred in the 600 block of South Figueroa Street about 12:35 p.m. Thursday, March 17, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.
“The death is being investigated as a possible suicide,” Winter said. An autopsy is pending.
Sabbatino, an electrician, fell about 50 stories and landed on a vehicle. The building project’s general contractor said the man had no reason to be above the structure’s third floor.
Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department said the woman driving the vehicle on which Sabbatino fell was not physically injured but was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
It was the Sabbatino’s second day on the job, according to Lisa Gritzner, a spokeswoman for Turner Construction Co. of Anaheim, the project’s general contractor.
Sabbatino was employed by Irvine-based ASSI Security Inc., according to Erika Monterroza of Cal/OSHA, the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The circumstances of the death were under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and Cal/OSHA, which opened an inspection involving both ASSI and Turner Construction, Monterroza said.
“We have confirmed with CalOSHA and (the) LAPD that the incident which occurred at the Wilshire Grand project site today (Thursday) was not work-related,” according to a company statement. “After an initial onsite investigation Cal OSHA has confirmed that no fall-protection violations were observed.
“Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased. We are also sending our deepest sympathies to our loyal and dedicated workers for whom today’s tragedy is deeply saddening.”
Gritzner said the man was not engaged in work-related activities when he fell and was not authorized to be on the floor from which he fell. The work he was doing on the building did not require him to be above the building’s third floor, Gritzner said.
The 73-story Wilshire Grand is being developed by Korean Air, which is owned by Hanjin International Corp., at a cost of more than $1 billion. The high-rise will be 1,100 feet when completed in 2017, surpassing the height of the U.S. Bank Tower, the tallest building in Los Angeles at 1,018 feet.
Turner closed the work site for the balance of Thursday, and it remained closed Friday.