Winds continue to cause damage across state

Many still without power

gusts may have been factor in death in Prince George's

November 15, 2003|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Although winds eased yesterday, they were still powerful enough to cause power outages and low tides, and may have contributed to a death at a construction site in Prince George's County, authorities said.

Sustained winds reached as high as 25 mph yesterday, down from a high of 40 mph Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

High winds may have been a factor in the death of a construction worker in Hyattsville. About 8:30 a.m., a free-standing 30,000-pound concrete slab fell on Bradford Mearig, 34, of Lititz, Pa., at a garage under construction in the 3300 block of Toledo Road, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire Department.

Mearig was on the ground floor, welding a wall, when a concrete slab held by a crane crashed with another slab, sending the piece crashing into Mearig and killing him instantly.

Authorities have not ruled out factors other than the winds, Brady said. The accident is being investigated by the Maryland Occupational Safety Health department.

It took firefighters nearly three hours to recover Mearig's body because there was so much rubble, Brady said.

Another worker, David Miller, 47, of Newmanstown, Pa., fractured his leg when he was scrambling away from the accident, Brady said. Miller was treated at a local hospital and released, Brady said.

Brady was unsure who employed the construction workers.

About 22,000 homes in the Baltimore region were without power yesterday, according to Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. officials.

The winds also pushed back water from the coast, creating "blowout tides" along the Chesapeake Bay shore.

The low tide at Fort McHenry in Baltimore about 5 a.m. yesterday was nearly 3 feet below predicted levels, and the water level kept falling. The next high tide was 3 1/2 feet below predictions, and low tide at 3:30 p.m. was 2 1/2 feet below normal, according to data from the National Ocean Service.

Sun staff writer Frank D. Roylance contributed to this article.

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