Mourners honor workers killed in UT-Dallas construction accident

David Maly

More than 350 members of the University of Texas at Dallas community gathered together Wednesday to remember two construction workers killed Saturday afternoon while working on a new arts and technology building at UT-Dallas.

Terry Weaver, of Grand Saline, Texas, and Thomas Fairbrother Jr., of Austin, were atop a construction crane dismantling parts when the crane fell across a building, resulting in their deaths. No others were injured as a result of the accident, and construction has been halted until an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can be completed, according to UT-Dallas reports.

OSHA spokesperson Juan J. Rodriguez said Hunt Construction Group, the general contractor for the project, has never been charged with wrongdoing by OSHA, and he expects the investigation to take roughly six months.

UT-Dallas alumnus Arnand Gayapershad was studying in a nearby library when the accident occurred. Gayapershad said he and the others around him were in shock after hearing the crane fall and the ensuing panic.

“My friend and I were studying when all of the sudden we heard some people screaming from high in the air,” he said. “A few seconds later, we heard the sound of a lot of metal crashing to the ground, and a few milliseconds after that, we heard more screaming. They sounded like screams of pain, after which, everyone in the library froze.”

Raj Dwivedi, UT-Dallas Student Government president, said there has been speculation that weather conditions were a factor in causing the accident.

“There was severe weather and really high winds at the time,” he said.

According to the Associated Press, Matt Bishop, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a band of thunderstorms moving into the area on Saturday afternoon brought sudden wind gusts that reached upward of 40 mph.

Dwivedi said student leaders wanted to show their support for the workers killed, so they joined with the university to plan a memorial service and create a benefit fund for the families of the workers.

“These workers lost their lives while working toward the growth of the UT-Dallas, so it was important that we memorialize them in some way,” he said.

Weaver’s funeral was held Thursday in Van, Texas, and Fairbrother’s will take place Saturday in Austin.

Sonny Laguna, president of Iron Workers Local 482, the union that both workers were members of, said there was a big turnout of ironworkers at Weaver’s funeral and he expects to see the same at Fairbrother’s on Saturday.