New information on High Speed Rail construction accident

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Friday, March 9, 2018
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The family of Jerry Ouelette worries he may never walk again.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The family of Jerry Ouelette worries he may never walk again.

Ouelette was crushed during an accident at a high-speed rail work site Tuesday afternoon.

48-year-old Jerry Oullette was working on a rebar wall along Avenue 7 in Madera County when the accident happened.

A Cal/OSHA investigation revealed: "workers were hoisting a metal rebar wall when the rigging hoisting the wall failed."

Action News spoke with Oullette's nephew, Sacramento attorney Josh Escovedo. He says his uncle was badly injured. "I know they were immediately able to determine that every one of his ribs are broken, his clavicle is broken, his arm is broken, his foot is broken and he has severe tendon and ligament damage. He has multiple burst fractures in his vertebrae."

The 48-year-old ironworker is being treated at Community Regional Medical Center in Downtown Fresno.

He's married with three step-children and one grandchild.

Oulette underwent spine surgery on Wednesday.

"The surgeons are relatively certain that Jerry is going to be a paraplegic," Escovedo says.

California High Speed Rail Authority spokesman Toni Tinoco issued a statement saying, "safety remains the top priority for the California high-speed rail program."

But in November five high-speed rail construction workers were injured when a re-bar tower fell over. Two of them were hospitalized.

"I'm a bit concerned when I hear that it wasn't the first incident. Perhaps the necessary safety measures aren't being taken, certain rules aren't being abided by," Escovedo says.

Jerry Oullette is employed by Martinez Steel.

Escovedo says right now the only thing the family is focused on is helping Oullette recover.