By Paula Ann Solis
One man remains unaccounted for Tuesday evening after two construction workers were dragged to the bottom of the Brazos River while building the bridge that will connect McLane Stadium and the Baylor Law School.
Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, the public information officer for the Waco Police Department, said the two men were working on a manlift, which is a scaffold with a bucket or platform, when, for reasons unknown, it went into the water with both men tethered to it. One man was able to release himself from the lift and was rescued by other construction workers on site.
He was taken to Providence Hospital and is being treated for hypothermia. Swanton said he suffered no other known injuries.
Authorities were alerted of the incident shortly after 4 p.m. The Baylor Police Department, Waco Fire Department, East Texas Medical Center EMS and Texas Parks and Wildlife responded to the call for assistance.
Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens are using side sonar search methods to locate the body, although Swanton said the possibility still remains that the man swam to shore elsewhere. A dive team from Austin’s Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is on its way to assist in the search, Swanton said.
Waco Police Department is classifying this incident as an industrial accident, Swanton said. It is unknown at the time if wind was a factor in the collapse of the manlift. The Brazos River ranges in depth from 15 to 20 feet and Swanton said the manlift is believed to be 20 feet below the surface.
Several Baylor law students said they heard reports of the incident around 5 p.m. and could see the search crews along the riverbank from inside their classrooms.
Houston first-year law student Taylor Giusti said he was in a review session when news began to spread around the law campus that a man was in the river. He said from the window he could see a man being pulled out and covered with a blanket.
The identities of the two men have not been released as authorities are waiting to contact their families. Police cars and search and rescue teams remain on the scene.