PICTURED: Beloved apprentice tradie, 23, who died instantly after plunging 20 metres to his death when university roof collapsed
- A tradesman has described the traumatic moment he watched a worker die
- The 23-year-old fell to his death when a building collapsed at Curtin University
- A horrified witness has revealed how he locked eyes with the man as he fell
- He said he felt helpless watching the situation unfold and not being able to act
A tradesman who plunged to his death in a worksite accident has been identified as beloved 23-year-old apprentice Jonnie Hartshorn.
Mr Hartshorn was on site at Curtin University’s Bentley campus in Perth’s south-east when a building’s roof collapsed at around 12.30pm on Tuesday.
He died and two men in their 20s were seriously injured when the roof gave way.
A horrified worker watched the accident unfold.
Around 100 workers (pictured) were nearby when a man was killed in a fatal worksite accident at Curtin University in Perth
‘I saw the victim as he was falling,’ he told the West.
He said he felt helpless as he watched the worker get swallowed up in a ‘big mess of glass and metal’.
‘I made eye contact with him. I couldn’t do anything,’ he said.
Around 100 workers and dozens of students were thought to have witnessed the devastating accident.
One of the two injured survivors was undergoing emergency surgery last night after falling 20 metres from the top of the building site.
The other victim remains in a stable condition in hospital.
Mick Buchan, the State Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union vowed to do whatever it took to determine what caused the building to collapse.
A person has died and several others are injured after a building at Curtin University in Western Australia collapsed. Pictured: People at the scene
It’s understood the five-storey building was under construction when it collapsed
Devastated union officials are seen at the scene of a collapsed building at Curtin University. One of them put his hand over his mouth as he surveyed the tragedy
‘We are not going to leave any rock unturned to get to the outcome of what has happened,’ he said.
‘There is going to be a lot of explaining to do.
‘When you hear of a young worker that’s died on the job, just starting his career in construction, what message does that send? It’s an absolute disgrace. Someone has to be accountable and made responsible for this.’
Electrical Trades Union official Damian Clancy said he rushed to help when he saw the two men falling from the top of the building.
Other tradies working on the job site were sent home for the day, but gathered across the road to watch the aftermath
‘I believe there were two men up there when it collapsed, I saw one on the ground and he was moving and screaming, so I thought, ”OK, he’s alive”,’ he said.
WA Police Commander Mike Bell says authorities are yet to determine what caused the roof to suddenly give way.
‘A lot of the workers have stayed behind and obviously they’ll be spoken to in due course to determine exactly what happened,’ he told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
‘It’ll be up to the engineer to declare it safe at which point we can then go in and remove the body of the deceased and start our investigation.’
‘It’s 2020, these events should not occur in the building and construction industry. Another young worker has lost his life here today.’
Up to 100 staff were working on the building site at the time of the incident, and were promptly evacuated
Commander Mike Bell (left) of the WA Police Force and Mick Buchan, State Secretary of the CFMEU (right) speaks to the media in front of the scene of a collapsed building at Curtin University
An air of silence fell among the workers as they watched on in horror while emergency services scoured the site
Up to 100 staff were working on the building site – which is managed by head contractor Lendlease – at the time of the incident, and were promptly evacuated.
They were told to go home, but many of them stuck around and sat on a grass verge opposite the scene of the collapse.
An air of silence fell among the workers as they watched on in horror while emergency services scoured the site.
‘Keep in touch with your mates and your employer for further instructions when there will be a return to work,’ a union representative told the staff.
A tradesman working on a site next door said it was ‘horrible’ to see the aftermath of the incident.
‘I’m just happy to get home today,’ he said.
Two men in their 20s are in a critical condition after the structure caved in on Tuesday
Tradies watched on in horror as emergency services arrived and began searching the rubble for survivor
Initial reports suggest a glass ceiling fell through the site, crushing a construction vehicle in the process
Commander Mike Bell of the WA Police Force speaks to the media in front of the scene of a collapsed building at Curtin University
Another man who claims his grandson was working at the same job site said the victim was on the fifth floor of the building before it collapsed.
The building involved is reportedly the School of Design and the Built Environment, known as building 418.
It’s understood the five-storey building was under construction when it collapsed.
Initial reports suggest a glass ceiling fell through the site, crushing a construction vehicle in the process.
Tradies watched on in horror as emergency services arrived and began searching the rubble for survivors
St John’s Ambulance, WA Police and firefighters are all at the scene
Premier Mark McGowan said what occurred was a ‘terrible tragedy’.
‘It sounds appalling,’ Mr McGowan told State Parliament.
‘Can I pass on my thoughts to all of those people involved, especially the people who are trapped, the man we know has lost his life and the family members of those people.’
Students at the campus received a text alerting them of the incident.
The message read: ‘There has been an accident on the construction site of Building 418. Emergency services personnel are on site. Please avoid the area and avoid University Boulevard.’
Curtin University later released a statement to the public confirming no students or staff were caught up in the tragedy.
The building which is located near the university’s medical school was part of a project named The Exchange.
The project included a hotel, student accommodation and retail stores with plans for construction to finish in Semester One of 2022.
Construction on the site started last year.
The cause of the collapse is yet to be determined, and WorkSafe has opened an official investigation.
A close up of the scene of a collapsed building at Curtin University, in Perth