By Hayley Hart / Staff Writer
A contract worker died from major head injuries sustained Wednesday, Sept. 23, from a fall while setting up the College Promise event at the LAC Auditorium.
Jose Barragan, 47, died three days after his fall at the campus. Dan Schoepf, owner of Instant Signs andBanners and Barragan’s employer since July 2014, said Barragan and Schoepf’s son Michael were installing three banners at the college’s Auditorium around 9 a.m.
Barragan and the son had an appointment with LBCC’s public relations coordinator Camille Bolton at 8:45 a.m. to install the three banners, Dan Schoepf said.
Emails and calls to Bolton were unanswered as she was out of the office.
Schoepf said Barragan and the son were on top of the roof to hang a 10–by-40-foot sign at the front of the building.
The roof of the Auditorium can be accessed through the lobby in the building.
A ladder is then needed to access a ceiling tile panel leading to the attic. Another ladder inside the attic space is used to reach a metal hatch leading to the roof.
When the task of hanging the banner was completed, Michael Schoepf descended the ladders to the Auditorium’s lobby followed by Barragan.
Michael Schoepf is quoted in the Long Beach Press-Telegram as saying, “He fell without making a noise. He didn’t yell or have his arms out.”
The official first-responder incident report could not be obtained because Barragan’s family requested it be kept private.
Dan Schoepf said his son heard the sounds of breaking ceiling tiles and returned to the ladder to find Barragan with broken tiles and blood around him with an obvious head injury.
Michael Schoepf made an attempt to provide first aid to the severely injured Barragan.
The employer said, “We think, he hit his head with the metal roof hatch door, knocking him unconscious and he fell 18-25 feet onto the back of his head.” Barragan was transported by the Long Beach Fire Department Paramedics to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center’s emergency room and later transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit.
“There were 75-150 people at the hospital the entire three days we stood vigil for him,” Schoepf said. Barragan was removed from life support Saturday, Sept., 26, at 2:30 p.m., after the doctors found his brain injuries to be too traumatic to survive, Schoepf said.
According to OSHA.gov, a federal and state agency that oversees worker and workplace safety, Instant Signs and Banners was cited $3,490 for an incident reported Sept. 29, 2014.
The incident is listed as serious and the type is listed as an accident. The 2014 incident is still an ongoing and open investigation, according to the site.
As reported by the Long Beach Press-Telegram, officials with Cal/OSHA, the state’s workplace-safety watchdog, are investigating Barragan’s death, said Julia Bernstein, a spokeswoman for the state agency.
According to the U.S. bureau of labor statistics site, bls.gov, fatalities from falls, slips and trips for installation, maintenance and repair occupations is listed at 85 fatalities and at 793 for all occupations during 2014.
The bureau also states that 19 percent of deaths that resulted from a fall happen when the distance was between 16-25 feet.
ASB President Dalziel Arambula, a psychology and communication major, said, “A loss of life is a tragedy and my condolences go out to his family, community and colleagues.”
Student Trustee Alejandro Lomeli, 20, administration of justice major who attended the College Promise event the day after Barragan’s fall, said, “I’d like to offer my condolences to Mr. Barragan’s family in this time of mourning. Nothing compares to the loss of a loved one.”
Lomeli said LBCC President Eloy Oakley asked for the audience’s prayers and support for Barragan during the College Promise event.
Oakley sent an email to school employees after he learned of Barragan’s death. Oakley requested employees to, “Please join me in sending your thoughts and prayers to his family, his friends and co-workers during this difficult and sad time.”
An adult daughter of Barragan, Jackie, declined to comment, Wednesday, Oct. 7, referring questions to the family’s lawyer. The lawyer did not return a phone call Wednesday.