A man working at a construction site on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston who died after he was struck by a beam that fell from six stories up this morning has been identified.
The beam was knocked loose by a construction crane and struck the worker, causing head and chest injuries, according to a City of Evanston press release.
Michael Kerr, 57, of the 2400 block of Hart Street in Dyer, Ind., was pronounced dead at 8:55 a.m. at NorthShore University Hospital in Evanston, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
An autopsy for Kerr is scheduled for Friday.
The accident happened at about 7:15 a.m. at the southeastern end of campus, at the site of the new school of music and communications building.
Evanston police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said the wooden beam was 16 feet long and weighed 70 pounds.
“A crane came in contact with the beam that was unsecured and fell and hit this guy,’’ Parrott said. “It was knocked off.’’
No one else was injured.
Work was halted at the site after the accident and university spokesman Alan Cubbage said it was unclear when work would resume.
"The university extends its sympathy to his family and fellow workers," said Cubbage.
Power Construction Co. in Schaumburg is the contractor, Cubbage said. A construction company representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
OSHA announced that it has opened an investigation into the fatality.
Scott Allen, a spokesman for the workplace safety agency, said OSHA investigators were on the scene earlier today.
"We've initiated interviews with some of the employees, the employer, potential witnesses, trying to determine what might have caused the fatality," Allen said.
No preliminary findings have been released, and Allen said it could take up to six months to complete the probe, as is allowed by law.
"It could be a few months or it could take all of six months, depending on the complexities of the case," said Allen. "When it's a fatality, I would lean more to the longer time."
Police involvement will end following the expected accidental autopsy results, as there is no indication of foul play, Parrott said.
Cubbage said the building will be the new home for the Bienen School of Music and provide additional space for the school of communication. The estimated cost is $108 million. Construction on the building started last fall and is expected to be done in 2015.
Brian Cox is a freelance reporter; Rosemary Sobol is a staff reporter.