By Mark E. Vogler
---- — LAWRENCE — A roofer working on a house at 7 Monmouth St. suffered life-threatening injuries yesterday in a head-first fall off his ladder.
Rigoberto Mendez, 18, of Lynn, was in critical condition at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston last night, according to a hospital spokesman.
“At the time of the accident, Rigoberto Mendez was carrying materials up the ladder, miss stepped in between the second and third floors and fell to the ground, landing directly on his head,” Lawrence police Officer Adam Goujon wrote in his report.
When the officer arrived at the scene, he saw Mendez lying on his back near a ladder in front of the multi-family home, with blood coming out both of his ears, mouth and nose.
“He was breathing in a strained and gurgling fashion,” Goujon said.
Patriot Ambulance staff and paramedics from Lawrence General Hospital began working on Mendez immediately after they responded.
“I was informed that he went right from the ambulance into a helicopter and flown directly to Beth Israel Hospital where he was in critical condition,” Goujon said.
Four coworkers told police that they were on the roofing working when he fell shortly after 1 p.m. They said the teen is a day laborer and the least experienced roofer among the group.
“Due to this, his usual responsibilities were to stay on ground level, cleaning and gathering materials,” Officer Goujon said.
Mendez was wearing a safety harness, but was not clipped into the safety rope because he had not reached the roof, according police. Goujon noted it is “standard practice to not clip into the safety rope until you are on the roof.”
The four coworkers told police that Goujon’s fall was an accident and that nobody was nearby when he fell.
“We called detectives in to investigate,” Lawrence police Chief John Romero said in an interview last night.
“It appears to be an accident, but it’s still an open case. We are notifying the appropriate agencies,” he said, referring to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is responsible for investigating workplace accidents.
The Monmouth Street house is owned by Northeast Capital Group Inc. of Woburn. Donald Taylor, a representative of the company, said it hired the roofers to work on the building.