Construction worker crushed in South San Francisco mourned

The family of a construction worker who was killed Tuesday when a four-ton concrete wall fell on him at a South San Francisco warehouse site halted Wednesday’s investigation as they gathered to pay respects with flowers, incense and food laid on the cold ground.

The death of 50-year-old Chiu Chun Wong, of San Lorenzo, was a shock to his family, said his oldest daughter Angela Wong, a freshman at UC Berkeley.

“He was hard-working and diligent,” Wong said. “I’m concerned about my mother, not only financially, but emotionally. She is very emotional.”

She said her family will determine in the coming days whether they need to file any legal documents to receive compensation for the incident. She also said that she plans to visit her mother and 11-year-old sister in San Lorenzo more often now that her father is dead.

On Wednesday, the site was cleared of debris from the incident and all that remained were flowers, an incense candle and a plate of food. Following a Buddhist tradition, the family spread pieces of paper that represent money, which is on the family’s mind, Wong said, since her father supported the family with his job.

Before the Wong family’s rituals, South City officials and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health were investigating how the wall fell. A Cal/OSHA official said a report may not be available for another two months.

What Cal/OSHA officials know about the incident is that while Wong was working to demolish part of the wall to create a warehouse storefront, a concrete slab measuring 20 feet by 10 feet became dislodged and fell on him.

Police said other construction workers and employees from JC Steel, the owner of the warehouse, tried unsuccessfully to lift the slabs. A South San Francisco inspector was then flagged down and the police were called in.

Cal/OSHA spokeswoman Kate McGuire said walls often fall in construction sites. In 2006, there were 43 deaths by falling walls in California, she said. She also said that the construction company, Vickers Constructions, has never been cited for any code violations.

Jim Kirkman, the city’s chief building official, said JC Steel had a demolition permit to change part of its warehouse into storefront offices. After Wong’s body was removed, the construction crew was directed to remove two adjoining concrete slabs to avoid any other incidents.

“We are not taking any chances,” said Tom Carney, the South San Francisco inspector on scene after the incident.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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