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Mural Artist Dies in Scaffold Collapse

Thursday, October 27, 2016

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Authorities are investigating a deadly scaffolding failure at a mural project on a construction site in Hollywood, FL, according to local reports.

Three men fell several stories when a section of scaffolding installed at the Hyde Resort & Residences Hollywood collapsed 40 feet Monday afternoon around 1:30 p.m., authorities announced.

Painter Raymond Willis Brown, 32, suffered fatal injuries in the fall; two other painters, Jonathan Olsen, 36, and Douglas Hoekzema, 36, were injured, but were saved by safety harnesses, officials said Tuesday (Oct. 25). Reports say it is unclear whether Brown had also been wearing a safety harness.

The artists had been painting a large-scale abstract mural, designed by Hoekzema, on the new resort’s south facade from swing stages reportedly installed by the building’s stucco contractor.

A cause of the scaffold malfunction was unclear as of Wednesday (Oct. 26) morning. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, fire rescue inspectors and police have opened investigations into the deadly failure.

Technical Rescue

Firefighters responding to the scene said the platform failure made so much noise when it fell that they thought it had struck their fire station next door, according to the Sun Sentinel.  

A dramatic rescue unfolded, according to video and images shot on the scene.

Firefighters conducted a technical rescue of one of the survivors, and the other was brought to safety using a 75-foot ladder.

Remembering Brown

Brown, the deceased victim, was originally from New Jersey and had worked at the Perez Art Museum in Miami since 2013, according to a local NBC News outlet.

"Hard to speak right now. Our son was our entire life. He loved his work. He loved his adopted home in South Florida and he loved his many friends within Miami's art community. We are devastated," his family said in a statement issued to NBC 6 Miami.

Ray Brown
Courtesy of the Perez Art Museum

Raymond Willis Brown, 32, was assisting on the mural at the Hyde Resort, when he suffered a fatal fall. He was a musician and artist.

The museum where he worked also issued a statement following the tragedy, calling Brown “instrumental in working alongside [the] exhibitions program since the museum opened.”

Brown’s grandfather described him as a “great musician” and talented artist.

“He was his own man,” James Woods told the Sun Sentinel, “I told him I admired him because he did what he loved, doing his music and art, and could pay his own way. I was so, so proud of him. I don't think he caused anybody any trouble in his whole life.”

He was survived by his parents.

Second Scaffold Accident

The Hyde Resort project is being developed by Related Group and Fortune International and the general contractor is John Moriarty & Associates of Florida.

Spokesmen from both the developers and contractor told Sun-Sentinel that safety on the job is a priority and expressed condolences.

The incident is the second in six days connected to the same general contractor.

On Oct. 19, formwork and scaffolding debris rained from the top floor of the Echo Brickell Condo tower under construction in Miami. As he was fleeing from the falling debris, a 50-year-old man suffered a heart attack and later died. Others, including workers, were also injured.

OSHA says it is looking into that incident as well.


Tagged categories: Access; Accidents; Artists; Fatalities; Health and safety; Murals; Painters; Scaffolding

Comment from Catherine Brooks of Eco-Strip, (10/27/2016, 8:55 AM)

I hope the families band together to hire a high-power attorney. The developer's name "Related Group and FORTUNE International" speaks for their deep pockets. John Moriarty & Associates state on their website: "JMA has grown to become one of the most respected construction management firms in the industry, with a track record of delivering a predictable result on a variety of project types...; from high-rise office construction in urban settings to complicated laboratory and health care facilities to residential projects of varying standards to finally the suburban office building that needs to be built QUICKLY & EFFECTIVELY." (my emphasis). Sounds like their those goals pushed safety to a lower priority. AFTER this scandal, I bet they change their website to say quality and safety are higher than fast.

Comment from John McCormac, (10/27/2016, 11:50 AM)

Sounds like Catherine is rushing to judgment based on nothing more than an article that admits "it is unclear whether Brown had also been wearing a safety harness". Clearly, the scaffolding failure is one issue (but was erected by the stucco subcontractor), but if someone is not properly harnessed, suing on emotion just wastes everyone's time. Why not wait until more facts are known before making such a brash statement, particularly just because a company has "deep pockets". Seems we have too much of a litigious society already.

Comment from Robert Aird, (10/28/2016, 7:51 AM)

Our experience with John Moriarty & Associates has shown them to be an intelligent and conscientious contractor which holds safety to be at least as important as the quality of their work and fulfillment of the owner's expectations. We just finished work on a 31-story building in Tysons Corner, VA and their treatment of the subcontractor community was exemplary.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/31/2016, 8:50 AM)

John: If I recall correctly, a harness is not required by OSHA on some scaffolding, depending on the type and design.

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