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Family to File Suit in Fatal Construction Accident

By: Andy Alcock; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Andy Alcock; Julie Montanaro Email
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UPDATED
By Andy Alcock
March 11, 2014

A steel bridge girder fell on him and killed him.

Now 18 year old Drew Kimberl's family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

He was racing towards a goal at a very early age.

Eyewitness News first introduced you to Drew in 2007.

At 11 years old, he was already a grand national champion go kart driver with big dreams.

"He was a good kid," said Drew's father Red Kimberl. "He wanted more things in life. He'd done a lot of things," he said. "He wanted to be a NASCAR driver. He wanted to make money," Red said.

Through his cousin, Drew landed a job in January to help take down the old Aucilla River Bridge in Taylor County.

He was going to school at Wakulla High in the morning and work during the day.

He'd only been on the job about a week when tragedy struck.

According to the Taylor County Sheriff's Office newly completed criminal investigation, a piece of temporary bridge being dismantled broke free and landed on Drew, killing him.

"An accident like this does not happen without gross negligence, recklessness," said Kimberl family attorney Sydney Matthew.

Matthew has filed his intent to sue the Florida Department of Transportation, the managers of the project, and the company contracted to do the work, GLF Construction, for $10-million.

Matthew points out the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA cited GLF for similar repeat safety violations in 2003.

"This company has a history of recklessness and that is extraordinary when you consider the facts of this case," Matthew said.

"If I'd known what I know now, I would've never let him go to work down there," said Red Kimberl. "It's been hard," he said.

The Taylor County Sheriff's office ruled the case an accident, so no one will be charged with a crime.

OSHA's investigation of the accident is ongoing.

For that reason, GLF's Ernest Howard declined comment.

A call made to FDOT's legal department for comment hasn't been returned.


UPDATED
By Julie Montanaro
March 10, 2014

The family of an 18 year old killed by a falling bridge beam is suing the construction company for more than 10 million dollars.

Drew Kimberl died in January while working to demolish the old Aucilla River Bridge in Taylor County.

Kimberl's family is filing its intent to sue both GLF Construction and the Florida Department of Transportation for wrongful death.

The family's attorney says OSHA has not yet completed its investigation. He contends the crane operator dropped a steel girder on top of Kimberl that day.


A tragic accident has taken the life of a local high school student.

19-year-old David Andrew Kimberl died at the scene of the accident Thursday in Taylor County.

We first introduced you to Drew on Eyewitness News as an 11 year old with big dreams.

This Monticello go kart track was the place Drew Kimberl became a champion.

"I was ten years old watching NASCAR and I wanted to get into go kart racing," said 11-year-old Kimberl.

In 2007, Drew told us his dream was to one day become a NASCAR driver.

It was after he won a grand national championship on his home track for his division.

"When I came in the pits, I had my hand up the whole time," said 11-year-old Kimberl.

Nearly 7 years later, Drew was at Highway 98 in Taylor County.

This time he wasn't practicing his driving skills, instead has working at construction site at the Aucilla River Bridge when tragedy struck.

According to the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, Drew died at the scene Thursday around noon after an accident.

Investigators, including with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aren't releasing the nature of the accident due to ongoing investigations.

"Any time a community like Wakulla has a loss like this, especially someone this student's age, it's always tragic," said Bobby Pearce, Wakulla Schools Superintendent.

Drew was a student at Wakulla High School.

According to Superintendent Pearce, Drew was a well like student.

Counselors were helping students deal with the loss.

"Our main concern right now is the family, the people who are suffering this loss directly and our students who are in school right now who are friends of his," said Superintendent Pearce.

Drew's visitation is now set for Sunday afternoon from 4pm to 6pm at the Lake Ellen Baptist Church on Crawfordville Highway.

His service will be held Monday at the church at 1pm.


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