The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings are North Division rivals in the National Football League’s (NFL) National Football Conference (NFC). There is little love lost between fans and players when they meet on the field, but those emotions become suddenly frivolous when something happens like it did at the end of August. One unidentified roofer fell to his death while working on the new Vikings stadium, and another was seriously injured. John Wood, the senior vice president of Mortenson Construction and the general contractor in charge of the $1 billion project, described it as a “tragic day.”
“Our priority is to ensure that we know exactly what happened and ensure that it never happens again,” Wood said. “A man lost his life on this project today and that simply never should happen.”
The man who died worked for Berwald Roofing Co., and according to the Chicago Tribune he fell from the edge of the roof about 50 feet into a snow gutter on the north side of what will be U.S. Bank Stadium. It was only about 45 minutes into his shift, and he was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital. There is no indication if the slope of the roof, which is measured in inches as a ratio of its vertical rise over a horizontal distance of 12 inches, played a role. As of this writing no causes have been determined, but Wood promised a “very thorough investigation.”
A later piece by the local Star Tribune, reported the man who died was Jeramie Gruber, 35 of Northfield. Family couldn’t be reached, but condolences and memories were being shared to his Facebook page.
It was a traumatizing day for workers throughout the safety-minded Mortenson company — a company so focused on safety they make their workers use the crosswalk and wait for the light whenever they have to get to and from the site.
Most metal roofs last for at least 50 years — and the Vikings are undoubtedly hoping it will be at least that long before they face another disaster. Keeping up with the 2016 deadline is important, but not so much that they didn’t send everyone home the day of the incident and have had counselors on site since.
“We’re not thinking about the construction schedule right now,” Wood said. “We’re thinking about these two men and their families.”