By Bill Kirk
ANDOVER — A truck weighing almost 140,000 pounds, slid or rolled backwards and crushed the legs of a worker beneath its rear tires at a commuter rail work site yesterday.
The man, believed to be in his mid-40s, works for J.F. White Contracting Co., of Framingham, which is doing work on commuter rail tracks, rehabilitating the Shawsheen River bridges off Lupine Road, according to the MBTA Web site.
The worker was trying to attach a heavy equipment trailer to the truck.
At around 11:38 a.m., said Fire Chief Michael Mansfield, a 911 call came in about the accident.
Police and firefighters arrived to find that the man was pinned beneath and between two of the rear tires on the left side of the tractor-trailer unit.
The trailer was carrying an earth-mover. The piece of equipment was a Caterpillar 330D and low-drill attachment that was being taken to another construction site two miles away, according to a press release issued yesterday afternoon by Mansfield.
While connecting the trailer to the tractor, the truck operator’s lower extremities became pinned under the rear wheels of the tractor, Mansfield said. The total weight of the vehicle is estimated at 138,000 pounds.
Andover Police Lt. James Hashem said the man suffered “a severe crushing injury to his lower extremities.” He said the man’s identity was being withheld pending notification of his family.
Mansfield said that while the man suffered “life-threatening injuries” he was conscious and alert when he was taken from the scene by Andover Fire Rescue personnel and Lawrence General Hospital paramedics. He was flown to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston via Med-Flight, which landed in the parking lot of Hewlett-Packard off Dascomb Road. His condition was not available yesterday afternoon.
Mansfield said it took about 25 minutes to extricate the victim. He said firefighters used rescue air bags to lift the tractor-trailer and machinery off the patient.
Lupine Road was shut from the Andover Federal Credit Union near School Street all the way down to Central Street while emergency workers were at the scene. The road was not reopened until around 2 p.m.
The accident is being investigated by Mass. State Police, OSHA and Andover police department. A spokesman from OSHA said the agency did respond but he was unable to provide additional details.
Brian MacDonald, general manager of J.F. White Contracting Company in Framingham issued a statement last night:
"Today, a worker employed by J. F. White was injured on a jobsite in Andover on a project the company is performing for the MBTA," MacDonald said. "He was transported by Med-flight to a Boston Hospital.
"Our thoughts are with this worker and his family and we continue to monitor his progress as the doctors and medical staff continue his treatment. J.F. White is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigations being conducted by all authorities involved."
The company has done extensive work on rail tracks around the state, and was the contractor that rebuilt the bridge over the Merrimack River from Haverhill to Bradford.
The commuter rail project in Andover involves rehabilitating existing train bridges over the Shawsheen River. During construction over the next several days train service has been disrupted around the site, with bus service between Reading and Haverhill. The accident was not expected to affect the bridge project.
Staff writer Dustin Luca contributed to this report.