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Technician killed by beam in Twin Peaks Tunnel was working with stepson

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Patrick Ricketts, a signal technician working on the Twin Peaks Tunnel project, was killed Friday when a steel beam fell. (Courtesy photo)

The worker killed Friday during construction on the Twin Peaks Tunnel was on the same job site as his stepson when a steel beam fell and hit him, according to a longtime friend.

Patrick Ricketts, a signal technician for Shimmick Construction, died after the beam pinned him at around 4:30 p.m., transit officials said. His stepson, Matt Ropers, was at the other end of the tunnel, said Tony Owens, his friend of three decades.

“He’s having a tough time,” Owens said of Ropers in a phone call on Monday. “Everybody is in shock. It’s just really devastating. It was just so unexpected.”

The incident halted the seismic retrofit of the 100-year-old Twin Peaks Tunnel until Saturday as California Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the San Francisco Police Department investigated the death.
SEE RELATED: Twin Peaks Tunnel construction resumes after accidental death of worker 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency deemed the incident an accident in a statement Saturday night. Cal/OSHA said it would take four-six months to conclude its investigation.

Ricketts, a 51-year-old resident of Williams in Colusa County, is survived by his wife Bonnie Ricketts and two adult stepchildren. Owens said Ricketts had worked in construction for the last 15 years.

The Great Recession forced him to work jobs around the country, including Alaska. As a result, Ricketts would only see his family every six weeks until he landed a position with Shimmick Construction less than a year ago. The Twin Peaks Tunnel construction meant he could be even closer to his family.

“He was happy to be back in town and working with his son and being able to see his wife on the weekends,” Owens said. “It was a sacrifice for a long time.”

Owens said Ricketts and his wife are hard-working people. When Bonnie Ricketts learned of her husband’s death, Owens said she told him, “Well, I know this job is really on a crunch time.”

“She was worried about them getting back to work,” Owens said.

The SFMTA is expected to finish construction on the tunnel by Aug. 25. It is not immediately known if the incident will push back the completion date.

SEE RELATED: Twin Peaks Tunnel repairs could speed commute 

Shimmick Construction has offered to cover the costs of the funeral and related airfare, according to Owens. The company is expected to meet with the family in Williams on Tuesday.

Shimmick Construction has not responded to requests for comment.

The family is expected to hold a service for Ricketts next Monday in Colusa.

Owens said Ricketts enjoyed camping, restoring classic cars and barbecuing.

“He’s a good father and a great friend,” Owens said. “I planned on building some more cars with him when we retired.”

Patrick Ricketts, shown here with his family, was working on the same job site with his stepson when he was killed by a falling beam Friday. (Courtesy photo)

mbarba@sfexaminer.com 

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez contributed to this report. 

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