FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A construction equipment operator died Tuesday after a machine tipped, sending him into a creek, officials confirmed.
The body of James “J.W.” Ivey was found just before 2 p.m., Fayetteville Public Works Commission officials said.
Ivey, who had worked for Fayeteville PWC for 13 years, went into Stewart Creek on Offing Drive while fixing a bridge that had been washed away by Hurricane Matthew, authorities said.
Fayetteville police and emergency responders were on scene for hours. Divers took part in the search for Ivey, who was a water resources crew leader with Fayeteville PWC.
Fayetteville Public Works Commission crews are on scene and emotionally distraught, according to CBS North Carolina’s Nate Rodgers.
“J.W. was a long-time dedicated employee and this is a tremendous loss to the PWC family,” PWC CEO/General Manager David Trego said in an email. “This loss reminds us of the extremely dangerous conditions our employees face every day and why safety is our top concern. All of PWC has J.W.’s family and friends in our thoughts and prayers.”
Investigators are still working to determine what caused the machine to go into the water. This was the first fatality for PWC workers in nearly 50 years, officials said.
“It’s unbelievable, that’s the first time something like that has happened in our neighborhood,” said Joseph Rembert, who lives in neighborhood. “PWC does a lot of work here often, on lines and stuff but it’s the first thing something tragic has happened.”
The North Carolina Department of Labor said Occupational Safety and Health has been notified and an investigation has been opened.