Coast Guard Suspends Search For Missing Bridge Worker

The U.S. Coast Guard says it has suspended its search for a maintenance worker who fell off the Manns Habor Bridge Tuesday morning.

Authorities says Sydney Valesco was working for a contractor doing painting work below the bridge deck when he fell into the Croatan Sound. A co-worker jumped in to save Valesco, but that worker had to be rescued himself.

The Coast Guard ended the search at sunset Tuesday. They said based on information available, they cease searching when they don't think the missing person would still be alive.

The Dare County Sheriff's Office tells WITN News neither worker had life vests on.

The Department of Transportation says the two were employed by VHP Enterprises of Tarpon Springs, Florida and that life vests are required by workers on that job.

The DOT and the North Carolina Department of Labor are investigating the accident.


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A bridge maintenance accident has rescuers searching for one worker while another one was safely pulled from the Croatan Sound Tuesday morning. It is the second bridge accident in Eastern Carolina in the past week.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Dare County authorities are searching for Sydney Valesco who fell off the old Manns Harbor Bridge.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Jones says the accident happened around 8:00 a.m. in about the center of the three-mile long bridge. He says a co-worker jumped in the water trying to rescue Valesco. That co-worker was picked up about 15 minutes later by a Dare County boat.

The Coast Guard says three small boats, a 25-foot rescue boat from Oregon Inlet, divers from Dare County and a helicopter from Elizabeth City are all involved in the search.

The bridge is the old span which carries Highway 64 Business over the Croatan Sound.

The Dare County Sheriff's Office tells WITN News neither worker had life vests on.

The Department of Transportation says the two were employed by VHP Enterprises of Tarpon Springs, Florida. DOT Spokeswoman Jennifer Garifo says the company is painting the steel beams under the bridge. That work includes blasting lead paint.

Garifo says workers are required to wear life preservers on the project. She says the two men fell some 10 to 12 feet into the water.

The DOT and the North Carolina Department of Labor are investigating the accident.

Last Wednesday a construction worker was killed in Pitt County while working on the new Grimesland Bridge project. In that accident, a large metal concrete form fell from a crane and onto the worker.


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